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Western to go virtual beginning Wednesday

Advanced notice aims to give families time to plan for childcare if needed

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Western School Corporation is moving to virtual learning beginning Wednesday as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

The move comes after two high school students, two staff members from the transportation department, a teacher, and an additional staff member tested positive for COVID-19.  As a result, additional students and staff will be quarantined.

“The number of positive cases has continued to increase in the state, in Howard County, and in our schools. According to state and local health officials, the spread is not occurring within the schools but within the community, which is then affecting the schools,” said Western School Corporation Superintendent Randy McCracken in an email to families. “The positive cases and ultimately the quarantines are now beginning to have a significant impact on our schools, our classrooms, our ability to transport students, our staff, and our students. Safety for all is always our number-one priority, and we have now reached the point where we need to have a reset, and Thanksgiving break will give us that opportunity.”

The corporation is open today and tomorrow and then will go virtual through Thanksgiving break with students returning to school for on-campus instruction on Nov. 30.

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“The purpose of this shutdown is to reduce the number of positive cases coming into our schools at this time and then the number who must be quarantined as a result,” read the email. “At the present time, our principals, directors, and transportation department are juggling staff daily to keep the coverage that is needed, and this problem has continued to grow over that last few weeks. Teachers are also working to provide instruction for in-class students, as well as quarantined students. Giving us this extra time away from school will ideally give us a chance to stop the positive cases coming into the school right now and the compounding of quarantines.”

McCracken acknowledged that the eLearning will create “a hardship” for families and hoped the advanced notice would give parents more time to plan for childcare.

He encouraged families not to gather with people outside of their own families during this time and to wear masks, social distance, and wash hands frequently.

Any new positive cases in the district are asked to be reported to 765-889-2123, and students who are sick or have been around a positive person are asked not to return to school on Nov. 30

“It’s going to take us all working together, both in and out of school to stop the spread of this virus, to keep us all safe, and to keep our students in school,” said McCracken.