TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Schools are monitoring a possible surge of COVID-19 cases after a busy holiday travel season and break.
And officials are hoping a period of remote learning to start the spring semester will keep the virus out of local schools.
Students at Tippecanoe School Corp. will learn remotely until at least Jan. 19, while students at Lafayette School Corp. will return for in-person learning as soon as Jan. 11.
West Lafayette Community School Corp. does not have plans for district-wide remote learning when classes resume Jan. 7. That's because the district's COVID-19 numbers are lower than surrounding schools', according to a statement from WLCSC Superintendent Rocky Killion.
But like other local school districts, WLCSC is offering a full-time e-learning option for students this semester.
TSC Superintendent Scott Hanback says the remote learning period will offset a possible holiday surge similar to what he saw after Thanksgiving.
"Really the main concern at that time and potentially could be going forward is just a large number of students and staff who end up in a quarantine situation," he says.
As News 18 previously reported, local schools struggled to fill open spots for substitute teachers, bus drivers and food service workers last semester due to a high number of employees who were COVID-19-positive or were close contacts.
"I think this two-week remote period is going to allow that, maybe, post-holiday, Christmas and New Year surge to kind of calm down a little bit," Hanback says.
LSC Les Huddle says the data are clear: Cases of COVID-19 and quarantines rise at local schools after breaks.
"After Labor Day, we had it again after fall break and we had it once again after Thanksgiving holiday, so the data tells us to expect something after the Christmas and New Year's break here," he says.
Hanback says he's optimistic about the spring semester and the prospects of vaccination for his staff.
"That's going to be a positive for our schools and our staff will be sort of next in line, I guess, as far as the vaccine goes," he says.
That means schools could finally return to normal but probably not in time for the end of the school year, Huddle says.
"And if anyone wants to look deeper into the crystal ball for next year, it's a wait and see," he says.