‘We need flexibility from the state’: NACS superintendent explains

Return to Learn

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Northwest Allen County Schools have had a successful start to the year only making minor adjustments to the original back to school plan.

Students have done a great job with the new procedures and protocols in place and have also been mindful and respectful of peers by keeping their masks on and social distancing throughout the school day. Teachers have certainly faced challenges in the classroom this year.

The school year began with stress and many unknowns and the challenge at this point is trying to balance everything. Superintendent Chris Himsel believes that the district was prepared heading into the school year. For teachers, managing students in class and learning from home has been difficult to address.

“One of the biggest (challenges) would be learning how to teach our students with live streaming and in the class at the same time,” Kelley Mee, Maple Creek Middle School teacher says.

“It’s not something that’s an easy thing to address. It comes down to time, when you’re doing two different things, you just need more time and unfortunately there’s still only 24 hours in a day and that’s not going to change,” Himsel says.

Teachers have also had to keep up on absent student work as well as creating videos ensuring students are not falling behind. Mee says this has created a heavier workload for teacher this school year but they are dedicated to their students. Teachers are still trying to figure out how to balance work and home life.

“Life didn’t stop because we are in a pandemic and now we have to concentrate all of our efforts on COVID. All other aspects of life continued and that adds stress regardless of whether you’re a parent, you’re a child or you’re an employee those stresses still continue because life continues to happen,” Himsel says.

Himsel believes that Indiana schools need something from the state.

“We need flexibility from the state, we’re going to have to find ways to create some time. When you’re doing two times the work you’re used to doing, at some point you’re going to have to create the time to do the extra work that has to be done. Now if we want instruction to deteriorate, nothing needs to be done. But if we want to maintain that high level of instruction we’re going to have to let people get a breather and say how do I create the time to make sure my lessons are high quality,” Himsel says.

NACS is short bus drivers again this year which means they have more students than they would like on each route. Safety measures are in place to limit the spread of COVID.

Throughout the first seven weeks of school, half of NACS schools reported zero COVID cases. Only one school reported two cases. Attendance is 0.6% greater than it was a year ago meaning about 45 more kids are present each day than would have been present if the rate of attendance was the same as the first seven weeks a year ago.

Himsel thanks the community for their cooperation and commitment to follow reopening plans and asks to continue mitigation strategies to keep each other safe.

For COVID case numbers in Indiana visit coronavirus.in.gov.

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