Kokomo Schools is canceling in-person learning as of Monday, Nov. 23 until Friday, Dec. 4, excluding the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 26-27, due to staffing shortages related to COVID-19, according to a letter sent to staff, students and families by Superintendent Jeff Hauswald.
“Kokomo School Corporation officials, like many of you, are disappointed anytime transitions to ‘eLearning’ are deemed necessary,” Hauswald wrote. “We have worked diligently to keep our schools open, as we realize that in-person instruction has no equal substitute for many of our students.
“Also, we understand that our schools, in addition to academic instruction, provide valuable services, including the provision of healthy meals, social and mental health counseling and health services. These services, combined with the overall need for our students to socialize with their friends and classmates, provide insight into our efforts to keep our schools open.”
However, he wrote, COVID-19 and the safety risks associated with staff shortages, outweigh in-person learning at this time.
The schools have been working the Howard County Health Department Officer Dr. Emily Backer and other health officials regarding the decision to go to virtual learning.
The decision to close the week after Thanksgiving was not required, according to the letter, “Dr. Backer suggested we consider this action as a way to curb the spread of the virus after holiday gatherings and get-togethers.”
“Kokomo School Corporation officials believe that this preventative measure to slow the spread after Thanksgiving will increase the likelihood that we can resume in-person instruction from December 7 through December 18, as we conclude the first semester.”
Meanwhile, the district will provide meals on eLearning days. Meals will be available at Central Middle International School for all students from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 and Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
Hauswald wrote, “We IMPLORE you to assist us by limiting large gatherings, practicing social distancing and by wearing a mask. We anxiously await the development of a vaccine and other medical advances that are beginning to shed increased optimism for a return to ‘normal’ at some point in 2021.”
This story has been corrected to reflect when meals will be provided.