Southwest Allen County Schools announced Nov. 24 that its shift to all remote learning at the secondary level is being extended through the remainder of the current semester.

Students at Homestead High School, Summit Middle School and Woodside Middle School will continue virtual learning at home through the 12 school days between Thanksgiving break and winter break.

The current plan is to resume in-person learning at all schools on Jan. 5. All SACS elementary schools will remain open.

The middle schools and high school were initially scheduled to return to campus on Nov. 30. In a letter to parents, SACS Superintendent Phil Downs said the decision to delay the opening of schools was due to a staffing shortage.

“We knew the 2020-2021 school year would be unique and challenging,” Downs wrote. “Our Return to School Plan was developed to keep staff and students safe and your child’s health is our primary concern when we make these decisions, yet there are many factors we must consider. The reality is we need teachers to teach, and the numbers of isolations and quarantines, combined with the lack of substitutes available, continue to impede our ability to staff classrooms.

“The overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases affecting SACS students and staff have been outside our schools. Since we returned to school on August 12, out of over 1,000 employees, more than 400 staff have been impacted by COVID-19, and only 47 have tested positive. The majority of the cases of adults unable to work have been due to quarantine and childcare issues.”

This time last year, SACS retained a list of between 150 and 200 active substitute teachers available to the district at various grade levels. Currently, that list stands at 51.

“While some have been personally affected by COVID-19, many decided not to teach this year resulting in our inability to staff classrooms during the pandemic,” Downs wrote. “We have also seen SACS Transportation and Food Services staff and services similarly impacted.”

Although the district has seen a slight increase in positive COVID-19 cases, it is less than the increase within the local community.

“It is our hope the community spread decreases over the next few weeks to the point we have fewer staff in quarantine or ill,” Downs wrote. “As soon as we can cover the number of teachers out of the classroom, we will bring the secondary students back to the buildings. Please help in this regard by continuing to practice the three critical behaviors to prevent the spread of the virus: wear a mask, maintain 6 feet of social distance, and practice hand hygiene.”

FWCS shifts to remote learning at all schools

Fort Wayne Community Schools announced Nov. 23 that all of its schools would shift to remote learning Nov. 24-30.

According to the announcement, the decision was made due to a “severe staff shortage in our transportation department.”

The district had already shifted all high school students to remote learning through Dec. 4.

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