PARKE COUNTY, Ind (WTHI) – Just one day after Southwest Parke Community School Corporation opened up its doors and welcomed students back to the classroom, they had to send them back home again. The school corporation dismissed their students at 1PM on Tuesday citing COVID-19 cases and suspected Covid-19 cases as the cause.
Superintendent of the school corporation Dr. Phil Harrison explained the situation to News 10.
STATEMENT FROM NORTH CENTRAL PARKE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
"UPDATE FROM SUPERINTENDENT SCHIMPF
TUESDAY, AUGUST 11
Parents: Please be aware that North Central Parke Community Schools will make determinations on closure based upon the reopening plan, and input from the local health department. Neighboring schools may close due to outbreaks or other situations that arise within their corporations. We will continue to make local decisions regarding keeping NCP schools open.
All NCP schools will remain open unless parents are directly notified via email or a phone call.
Again: NCP schools are open at this time, and plan to stay that way for as long as it is deemed safe to do so."
Staff of the school corporation reported to work on August 6th with proper safety protocols in place. On Sunday, August 9th, two staff members along with one student of Riverton Parke High School presented symptoms of COVID-19 and went to get tested. All parties involved notified the school corporation right away and quarantined themselves.
Tuesday morning, the school was notified of positive test results among those under quarantine. The school corporation contacted the local health department. The local health department identified other individuals within the school who should be quarantined due to potential close contact. Those individuals were immediately notified and quarantined themselves.
Harrison says these individuals left the premises immediately. The number of personnel that needed to be quarantined was significant when compared to the size of the overall staff at the High School. This is what prompted the early dismissal on Tuesday.
Dr. Harrison says he knew this year would be a challenge, and while this is disappointing, he believes they acted as their protocol says.
“Overall, I think the execution of our plan has been consistent with what we said we would do,” Dr. Harrison said, “That is take information from the health department, weigh that against what’s going on in our schools, and make the decision that’s best for the safety and health of our students and staff.”
E-Learning will be conducted for the remainder of this week and all of next week for students. Harrison says he believes the transition will be smooth because of both students and teachers’ previous experiences with online learning.
He says the school corporation plans to return to face to face instruction and continue to navigate through these challenging times.
“The goal is to return to face to face instruction on Monday, August 24th. That’s our overarching goal,” Dr. Harrison concluded, “We believe the best teaching and learning takes place with students and teachers in classrooms. I think we are going to be in for a challenging school year and today is just the first of what may be many bumps down the road.”