All four of Cass County’s school districts will have students return in person as scheduled, continuing with the planned calendars.
The district superintendents released a basic, guiding plan on Thursday detailing what the coming school year will be like.
“It’s county wide. It’s not just Logansport because we’re working together,” said Logansport Community Schools Superintendent Michele Starkey.
There’ll be variations between each school, as there usually are, and this is not the plan but guiding principals.
The district superintendents will bring the plan to their July school board meetings for final approval.
That will be July 14 for the Pioneer Regional School Corporation, July 13 for Logansport Community Schools and July 15 for both Caston School Corporation and Lewis Cass Schools.
After the boards approve the plans, they will go to the Cass County Health Department for approval and go out to students’ families in mid-July.
The health department has been working with the districts throughout this and has been helpful, Starkey said.
She also said that the schools would be adapting and modifying plans as needed.
Caston Superintendent Cindy Douglass said that, because each districts’ buildings are unique, school-based committees will to consulted.
According to the joint statement, besides the districts not altering the school calendars, they will:
• Implement appropriate safety measures as recommended by state and county health officials, including but not limited to:
• Strong encourage students and staff members to wear masks with masks required in some settings.
• Provide frequent opportunities for hand washing and/or hand sanitation.
• Require students and staff to follow established protocol for return to school after illness.
• Maximize instructional space and scheduling flexibility.
• Employ enhanced cleaning procedures with additional hand sanitizer stations.
• Adjust lunches to maximize available open space and utilize alternate scheduling to adhere to safety guidelines.
• Identify and separate space in school clinics to treat symptomatic students.
• Restrict visitors and guests in our buildings.
Pioneer Superintendent Charles Grable said, “We wanted to be on the same page and have a county-wide plan so we’re consistent.”
Douglass said there was also concern about transportation, but the students will have assigned seats and wear masks while on the bus.
The school districts are also dealing with the final pieces of the 2019-20 school year.
In Logansport, that includes the commencement ceremony and a possible late prom.
“Graduation is going to happen on Aug. 2,” Starkey said.
However, all six options for it, from the Berry Bowl to limiting the number of tickets to a virtual ceremony, are still on the board.
“We’re still kind of in a holding pattern to see what happens,” she said.
The rescheduled prom is still uncertain in all aspects, she added.
The caution is because of increases in COVID-19 infections around the country and the new Stage 4.5 step in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s five-step Back on Track Indiana plan, which now means the state will not go to Stage 5 (fully reopened) on July 4.
As the schools get going, they’re have more and more information, Starkey said.
At Pioneer, “We’re still hoping to have a traditional graduation ceremony,” at 2 p.m. on July 26, Grable said. “We may have to limit the number of guests” using tickets, but it will be live streamed.
Pioneer’s senior awards will be July 25, the night before graduation, and also be limited by tickets.
But Pioneer’s prom was cancelled.
“There’s just no way to have a prom with social distancing,” Grable said.
Caston’s graduation is also set for July 26.
“We’re trying to make that as close to a traditional ceremony as we can,” Douglass said.
There will also be limited tickets for students’ guests, and instead of the band and choir performing, there’ll be recorded music.
Caston also cancelled its prom.
Lewis Cass Superintendent Tim Garland couldn’t be reached for comment about his district.
Post-high school institutions are also making plans for the coming school year.
Indiana University Kokomo issued a press release stating that it will open Aug. 24, as planned.
During the fall semester, the university will offer approximately 225 classes that are in-person, and about 400 more will be split between in-person and remote learning.
On-campus classes will run through Nov. 20, but after that they’ll be run remotely until the end of the semester.
While the campus has been closed, staff sanitized the buildings and set up classrooms with seating placed for social distancing.
Classes that can fit all students in while meeting safety guidelines will meet on their regular schedule. Larger classes that cannot fit all students while maintaining the six-foot social separation may split the class and alternate who is there each day.
Half the class would attend in person while the other half attends virtually every other day, allowing all students to have in-person class time.
Students, faculty and staff will need to wear face coverings in the buildings.
Ivy Tech will offer three types of class options and has organized fall and spring semesters into eight week sessions, said Vice-Chancellor Ethan Heicher.
The popular online classes will continue, the normal classrooms will be there and there’ll be a blending of options using meeting software like Zoom and campus time.
For in-person classrooms, “we have chosen to just reduce the number of seats available,” Heicher said.
The blended classes will also be used for those with practical experience and instruction, such as welding and medical assistant.
For the eight week session, the first round of classes will begin Aug. 24 as planned, and the second will begin Oct. 26.
“This is about keeping everyone safe as possible and reducing the number of trips to campus,” Heicher said.