Five schools in Allen County are moving to a remote format today due to staffing shortages fueled in part by COVID-19 cases and quarantines.
They join at least two other Fort Wayne schools that previously transitioned to a virtual format.
Fort Wayne Community Schools — the region’s largest district with nearly 30,000 students — is implementing online learning at Shawnee Middle School and Abbett, Fairfield and Franke Park elementary schools.
“These four schools are going to eLearning because they have an exceptionally high number of staff who are sick or in quarantine,” Superintendent Mark Daniel said in a statement. “While our goal has been to keep students in school for as many days as possible, we must also maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.”
Northwest Allen County Schools said COVID-19 cases and other absences contributed to staffing shortages at Carroll Middle School.
“We cannot safely staff and oversee the building (Friday),” Principal Brandon Basham said in a statement Thursday. “Therefore, our best option is to use eLearning for the day.”
Just a day earlier, NACS told families to prepare for the possibility of classes, grades or schools closing on short notice. The district has approximately 8,000 students.
“Your child may also have periodically delayed bus pickups or drop-offs due to understaffing,” the district said. “We hope these are temporary challenges.”
Daniel had a similar message for FWCS families.
“We closely monitor student and staff absence rates to determine if a school should temporarily transition to online learning,” he said.
NACS and FWCS said the switch to online learning is only scheduled for today. The FWCS said it was giving students and staff four days out of school buildings to complete quarantines or recover from illness.
Both districts are closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
A “significant” number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines also prompted Central Noble Junior-Senior High School to conduct classes remotely today.
“The current situation has resulted in logistical, instructional and staffing issues in the building,” Central Noble Community Schools said Thursday.
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said it has three schools — including St. Vincent de Paul School and St. Joseph Catholic School in Fort Wayne — that are fully virtual this week. The other is in Elkhart.
The diocese did not specify the reason for the changes, but said principals are reviewing COVID-19 transmission rates in their county, and each school has the authority to determine what mitigation strategies to use. .
“This can and does include a hybrid schedule or full distance learning for deep cleaning of buildings before returning to full-time in-person learning,” the diocese said. “Each school adapts according to the circumstances in their schools.”
Also on Thursday, Bishop Luers High School said it will now recognize and accept home COVID-19 test results. Southwest Allen County Schools made such an announcement on Monday.
Both entities said the new protocol has been approved by federal, state and local health officials, but the Allen County Health Department said Thursday that all guidance on procedures, policies and recommendations regarding COVID -19 were from the Indiana Department of Health.
“The Allen County Health Department does not approve school plans or procedures and provides guidance on state rules only when requested,” said department administrator Mindy Waldron in a statement. .
“Everything related to schools’ use of home testing follows guidelines provided by the state directly to schools.”