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Southwest Allen County Schools officials sticking with original Return to Classroom policy in dealing with COVID-19

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- The superintendent of the Southwest Allen County Schools system sent a letter home to district families to explain the decision, given different proposals discussed at this week's board meeting.

It also touched on other topics.

Here is a copy of that letter:

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Good evening, SACS families.

It’s been nearly one month since SACS returned to school. I have walked the halls at all the schools, visited classrooms, and talked with students, staff and families. Collectively, I believe our community is thrilled to be back in the classroom. I would be remiss to say our return to the classroom has not been met with various challenges. Below are a few items our families need to know.

On Wednesday, September 1, Governor Holcomb issued Executive Order 21-24 providing some leniency to a school district’s contact tracing and resulting quarantine practices when masks are required in all classrooms. As a result, the SACS School Board revisited our Return to the Classroom plan at Tuesday’s board meeting. On the evening of September 7, a motion to change our processes, was made, voted on, and passed. Since then, it has been determined that the motion to change our processes does not meet the criteria mandated in the executive order. Because the Board approved procedure does not meet the state guidelines, SACS remains “mask recommended” with no change to classroom contact tracing procedures.

SACS will continue to follow the original Return to the Classroom plan from July 2021, with policies and procedural changes communicated when changes occur.

  • Masks remain recommended
  • Contact tracing will continue and may result in quarantines

Masks have been required on all buses per a federal order. Because students are masked on our buses, SACS will no longer need to quarantine close contact exposures on our buses, however, we will continue to contact trace. Beginning today, parental notification will be sent via email/text for any student bus rider determined to be a close contact. While these students will not need to quarantine, they must continue to self-monitor for symptoms. Students who are currently quarantined due to a bus exposure will return to school on the day previously determined to be their return date. If this guidance changes, the school will contact those affected.

SACS Food Services

Our Food Service Department has recently been experiencing product shortages and limited availability of many products from our vendors. This has become a widespread problem in the food service industry, but it has hit school food service especially hard due to the limited menu options we are allowed to provide. We have been working to find suitable replacements, but because of the high demand nationwide, many products are simply unavailable.

Please understand that our published menus may change on a day-to-day basis, with little available lead time as we are unsure of product availability.

Further Shortages

SACS Transportation, not unlike district transportation departments across the country, continues to face bus driver shortages. In recent days, the driver shortage has resulted in several routes running late or being canceled for the day. We recognize the inconvenience this places on our parents and students. We continue to actively recruit and train new drivers.

SACS is also experiencing a substitute shortage. We have half as many short or long-term subs as we had two years ago. If you are interested in being a substitute teacher in our schools, please contact our Human Resources Department at 431-2050 or visit www.sacs.k12.in.us for a complete listing of our job openings.

Lastly, I would like to share my appreciation to our community for your ongoing support and trust. While these words may sound like nothing more than buzz words, I can assure you they are not. As Superintendent of this district since late June, I have had the opportunity to expand my relationships as the principal at Homestead to now include the entire SACS community. I have learned a great deal. It is clear SACS is home to dedicated staff, passionate teachers, phenomenal students and a generous community that values and supports education. In the days ahead, we must continue to work together and respect one another even when we don’t agree. Together, we will continue to do great things!

Thank you, 


Park D. Ginder, Ph.D., Superintendent
Southwest Allen County Schools

Linda Jackson

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