Seymour schools moving back to mixed schedule


Having Seymour Community School Corp. students and staff out of the school buildings for two weeks helped reduce the number of absences due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before Thanksgiving break, Superintendent Brandon Harpe announced kindergarten through 12th grade would move to virtual instruction this week based on a staff shortage and lack of substitute employees, primarily from the pandemic.

The corporation saw a high of 92 absences on a single day, and it went down to 50 before Thanksgiving.

This past Monday, Harpe said the number of people in quarantine was down to 18.

As a result, beginning this coming Monday, the corporation will move back to in-person instruction for kindergarten through fifth grade and hybrid model instruction for grades 6 through 12.

For the hybrid schedule, last names beginning with A through L will attend in person Monday and Tuesday, do eLearning Wednesday and have virtual participation Thursday and Friday, while last names starting with M through Z will participate virtually Monday and Tuesday, do eLearning Wednesday and attend in person Thursday and Friday.

Virtual instruction is live, while eLearning involves students logging onto a computer and completing assignments on their own time.

"This decision is supported by our local health care officials at Schneck Medical Center as well as the Jackson County Health Department," Harpe said in a letter to families Wednesday. "We have continued to closely monitor the situation over the past two weeks and have seen improvement."

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health moved Jackson County into the red designation, which is the highest level of community transmission of COVID-19.

"Contact tracing has not shown spread in schools, and our intent is to keep it that way," Harpe said. "Please continue to make healthy decisions based on recommendations from the health department. We are all in this together, and our children need to be in school."

In the letter, Harpe said he hopes parents tell their students’ teachers "thank you."

"Our teachers have endured constantly changing conditions while keeping the needs of their students as their top priority. They have been heroes throughout this crisis," he said. "Thank you for your patience and support during this pandemic."

Harpe said the goal is to return to in-person instruction Jan. 11, but conditions will be assessed daily. More information will be released Jan. 7 regarding the second semester mode of operation, he said.

Brownstown Central

On Wednesday, Brownstown Central Community School Corp. Superintendent Tim Taylor posted on Facebook that despite the red designation, the district will continue operations as it has since Oct. 19.

Brownstown Central middle and high schools will continue on a hybrid schedule, while Brownstown Elementary School will remain in session with in-person instruction.

"This decision was made in conjunction with the Jackson County Health Department and meets the Indiana State Department of Health guidelines," Taylor said. "The change in designation from orange to red has little effect on the operation of our schools as we intend to continue practicing all precautions."

Taylor said less than 1% of COVID-19 cases in Indiana have occurred in schools.

"Most schools that have moved to a virtual instruction option have done so as a result of staffing shortages caused by the number of staff members quarantining as close contacts, not due to the spread of COVID-19,’ he said.


Crothersville Community School Corp. Superintendent Terry Goodin said the district also will keep its operations the same.

"Hats off to faculty and staff at Crothersville and parents," he said. "We’ve been following guidelines. We’ve had some folks who have missed and that kind of stuff, but overall, our protocol that we’ve been following, which has been a little stricter than others, has worked out perfect. We’re going to stay the same way we are. We’re going to stay on hybrid."

Sophomores, juniors and seniors enrolled in the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative are the only ones impacted by the red designation since Austin schools went virtual Tuesday and will remain that way through Dec. 14.

Crothersville sophomores in the early college program will abide by the hybrid schedule that has them meet in person Thursdays at Crothersville, juniors in the program will attend first and second periods each day in person at Crothersville and seniors will do all Crothersville courses online without attending in person due to staffing issues.

For home sporting events, the no spectators policy remains in place. Only players, coaches and essential personnel are allowed.

"It’s just called doing the right thing," Goodin said. "It has worked out very well for us. That’s why we’re in the shape we’re in and not having to jump back and forth into chaos. We appreciate the patience of the parents and everybody involved in that."

Basketball games are being live streamed on the athletic department’s Facebook page.

The homecoming ceremony scheduled for Dec. 12 has been postponed. A new date will be announced on the school’s Facebook page.


Medora Community School Corp. still has students in preschool through fifth grade on a regular in-person schedule and grades 6 through 12 on a hybrid schedule, Dean of Students Kara Hunt said.

Parochial schools

Jackson County parochial schools continue to operate on a regular schedule, too.

Trinity Lutheran High School Principal Clayton Darlage said students and staff at the Seymour school are operating "business as usual" other than more limited attendance at sporting events.

He said one student is full-time virtual and the rest are attending in person. If a student is in quarantine, he said there are virtual arrangements available.

Lutheran Central School in Brownstown plans to continue what it has been doing since the end of October, Principal Jon Sprengel said.

Sixth through eighth grades are on a hybrid schedule, and kindergarten through fifth grade is attending in person every day.

"As of right now, we are planning to continue with extracurricular events but will have further restrictions on attendance to be in line with the guidance from the health department," Sprengel said.

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