FWCS ‘Return to Learn’ plan brings blended, socially distant education for students

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Community Schools announced a blended approach to education in its ‘Return to Learn’ plan during a press conference Wednesday. Their school year begins on August 10.

Pre-K – 5th grade

Students will attend daily, however, parents will have the option for remote learning.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we allow parents to have a choice and we are presenting that as a viable alternative to being in the building every day,” Dr. Mark Daniel , Superintendent of FWCS.

Students of all ages will be required to wear a face mask for most of the day, but Daniel said they recognize that it might be a difficult adjustment for younger students but that it is a necessary adjustment to make.

“It’s a new norm, it’s a mindset,” said Daniel. “Quite frankly, it’s a mindset that after every class we’re picking up paper on the floor. At the end of the day, we’re putting our chairs up on our desks so then Sodexo can get in and do that cleaning while they do deep cleaning in other areas. That’s a mindset. We’re going to expect it, and as such we’re there to educate students and that’s part of the education program.”

Each school will increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing commonly touched surfaces, but Daniel said it is unlikely that playground equipment will see any extra cleaning. Students will only be expected to wear masks on the playground if they are hanging around in small groups.

The deadline for parents to decide is July 29 on the ‘MyFWCS Parent Portal’.

Secondary

Students will be put into two groups that will alternate:

  • Monday, Thursday and alternate on Wednesday
  • Tuesday, Friday and alternate on Wednesday

Siblings will attend on the same days and will ride the same bus to limit the number of students they come in contact with. When not in person, students will learn remotely. The option to learn completely online is an option for parents to choose.

The deadline for parents to decide is July 29 on the ‘MyFWCS Parent Portal’.

With the new semester, students will be expected to log in and participate on their remote learning days. Failure to do so will be recorded the same as if the student had missed a day of school under normal circumstances. Dr. Daniel announced that the school district will be providing laptops and internet access to students who do not currently have access.

Masks or face coverings will be required for Pre-K through 12th grade. Disposable face masks will be provided every day for students and faculty with the possibility of the district providing face shields in some areas. A portion of the disposable face masks was obtained through a state program to provide masks and hand sanitizer to Indiana schools.

Other precautionary measures include assigned seating on buses and in the classroom, social distancing, eating lunch in the classroom, self temperature monitoring, and food being delivered to the classroom. Visitors and field trips will be limited. According to Daniel, the district has teams working on some of the finer details like how extracurricular programs will operate and what hallway traffic will look like. While he expects to see the flow of traffic in hallways regulated and possibly staircases move to a one-way flow, those plans will depend on each individual school.

Sick policy

“If [students] are ill, if they are running a fever [keep them home],” explained Dr. Daniel. “Same with staff. We’re very conscious of creating a safe environment.”

The superintendent reiterated that the school and everyone involved needs to think of their community as a team, emphasizing on the team effort needed.

Parents are asked to visit the ‘MyFWCS Parent Portal’ for more information and to submit their decision. Questions and comments can be submitted through ‘Let’s Talk’ on the District’s website by selecting ‘Return to Learn’. Notifications will be sent out on how to access the portal once it opens on Monday.

“We have many details yet to work out in these plans, but we wanted to inform parents now that there will be options as we start the school year in the midst of a pandemic,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel said. “We understand families and staff members have reservations about returning fully to the classroom because of the many unknowns about COVID-19. We also know that in-person education with our professional teachers provides the highest level of engagement for students. Because there are so many unique family situations, we know one option would not work for everyone. The most important thing now is to support our students in continued learning, regardless of the format.”

Daniel stressed that this plan is a jumping off point and that families and staff should expect it to change as time goes on new information and data becomes available. He also said that feedback from parents and teachers will be critical to finding the best way to educate students under the blended plan.

Information will be shared as decision are made in the FWCS’s ‘Return to Learn’ website

WANE 15 continues to go over the plan and will update information as we learn more details.

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