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COVID cases prompt Smith-Green schools’ move to two weeks of virtual learning

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CHURUBUSCO, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- Smith-Green Community Schools appears to be the first school district in northeast Indiana to go to all-virtual learning for the next two weeks after too many students and teachers tested positive for -- or had to quarantine because of exposure to -- COVID-19.

"At the time the decision made, we had about 30% of the elementary school out on quarantine or due to a positive case, and then in the junior-senior high, we were at around 20% that were also excluded from school at that time," Superintendent Daniel G. Hile said.

That's out of about 1200 students and 150 staff members.

A freshman said most kids he sees in the hallways and classes aren't wearing masks.

Superintendent Hile says it's frustrating to have planned an academic year only to need to pivot those plans so early in the term.

"We had a vision of what fall was going to look like. That things had kind of turned the corner, and so many of us had built our school plans following that. Unfortunately, we all know that was before Delta showed up," he said.

He says he made the decision Monday night to move to two weeks of virtual learning so that kids could continue to learn without risking more people's health, while giving parents the day Tuesday to figure out how to accommodate the change.

"Just as a way to try to try to slow this down and to get ahead of it and be proactive, so that we can at least have some consistency for student learning," Hile said.

Freshman Javier Meza says most kids he sees in the hallways and classes aren't wearing masks.

He says he knows himself well enough to understand that he learns better in person rather than at home.

"All my friends said, some of them like it, being at home and doing all their work from home, but others said they learn more in school. And instead of doing it all at home on a computer, they prefer to do it in school. Like you. Mm hmm, yeah," he said.

Superintendent Hile says extra-curricular activities are still on because he wants to disrupt as little of the students' lives as possible.

He says right now there are no plans to change the district's mask-optional policy, but says spacing in classrooms and other issues will be addressed during the next two weeks of virtual learning.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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