Marion County public school students will return to class on scheduled date; online options available

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MARION COUNTY, Ind. — The superintendents of Marion County’s eleven public school districts announced today that students will return to the classroom on their scheduled start date.

The school districts with their start dates in parentheses are Beech Grove City Schools (July 30), Franklin Township Community Schools (August 3), Indianapolis Public Schools (August 3), MSD of Decatur Township (August 3), MSD of Lawrence Township (August 3), Perry Township Schools (July 29), MSD of Pike Township (August 4), MSD of Warren Township (July 29), MSD of Washington Township (July 30), MSD of Wayne Township (July 29), and School Town of Speedway (August 4).

The schools will offer instructional options in either the physical school setting or online for students who are unable or are uncomfortable with returning to school. 

The last time kids were inside a classroom was in March. Districts now have about a month to prepare before they welcome back their students and faculty.

The superintendents plan to provide families with more guidance in early July after the Marion County Public Health Department finalizes their recommendations.

The guidance will include procedures for symptom screening; cleaning and disinfection; cloth facial coverings and masks or face shields; social distancing; student health and safety; bus transportation; and identifying, reporting, and tracing cases.

“Now it is really focusing on safety protocols. Once students are in the building every day, what are those protocols,” said Aleesia Johnson, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools.

Johnson said parents are filling out surveys this week to indicate their interest in e-learning. A previous survey conducted by the district showed more than 1/3 of families would take advantage of a full-time e-learning option if the district offered it.

“In the spring, we were not a one-to-one district meaning we did not have a device for every student. We will have a device for each student in the fall in addition to ordering hot spots,” said Johnson.

IPS said the district spent $12 million on tablets and chromebooks. They explained funding came from the CARES Act and the district’s budget.

Parents in Wayne Township have been pulling up to the curb at Bridgeport Elementary a couple days a week to pick up free meals. Tonya Alexander grabbed some food for her family and shared she is excited for her 5th grader to go back to school.

“The kids need the normalcy. Being at home and doing it online has been really rough especially for younger kids,” said Alexander.

MSD of Wayne Township expects about 80 percent of students will return to campuses. The district has already ordered gallons of hand sanitizer and there are some changes at the front desk, including plastic shields like what you see at a grocery store.

The district also requested face masks for their 17,000 students.

“There will be some additional modifications that are going to be coming. The Marion county health department is finalizing those for us. We will be able to communicate those hopefully in early July with our families,” said Jeff Butts, superintendent of MSD of Wayne Township.

Within the next week, his school district will be giving parents an opportunity to let them know if their children will be coming back and if they are coming back to the classroom or learning remotely.

The Marion County Public Health Department has had ongoing conversations with the public school districts, and plans to talk with private and charter school administrators this week.

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