As Ben Davis High School goes virtual, superintendent talks problems they see

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — More schools across central Indiana are moving to virtual learning due to COVID-19 and other illnesses causing staffing shortages.

Ben Davis High School in the MSD of Wayne Township Schools is one of them. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts let parents know Wednesday night students would be learning virtually for the rest of the week.

”We were running into some staffing challenges with Ben Davis High School in particular, by its sheer size, almost 4,000 children, 10th through 12th grade, and the number of classes we were covering,” Butts said.

He said they were doing everything they can to keep school in person, but at the end of the day they just did not have enough healthy staff.

”We had several classes that were meeting in large places like the gymnasium simply due to staff being out,” Butts said.

Butts is optimistic by Tuesday, after the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ben Davis High School should be able to go back to in-person school.

”We know with a three day weekend coming up that gives us five days, which is the quarantine period the CDC is now recommending, in order for us to get our staff and our students back,” Butts said.

Butts said right now a majority of the outages in Wayne Township Schools are not attributed to COVID, but teachers who do not feel well.

He said the time it takes to get tested can play a role in staff not finding out if they have COVID or not.

”It takes two to three days to get in to get a test for a PCR and it takes two to three days, they’re even saying three to five, to get the results back,” Butts said.

At that point, he said many staff and students will already be okay to come back as long as they do not have symptoms.

From Jan. 3 through Jan. 7, Wayne Township had 820 students in quarantine along with 21 staff members.

Wayne Township isn’t the only system having to shut schools down, IPS, Anderson, Greenfield and Warren Township have all had to go virtual in certain schools or even district wide.

For parents like Tim Baker this can be frustrating.

”Every student learns better in person, just plain and simple,” Baker said.

He has two kids in the Wayne Township School system, one at Ben Davis and another at the elementary level.

Baker said he is worried these COVID outages could cause more than Ben Davis to go virtual, and that could be problematic for his family.

”It would effect my work, my wife and I would have to make arrangements,” he said.

Butts said Ben Davis is the only school needing to be remote right now, and they’re doing their best to keep all Wayne Township students in school.

”We’re going to continue in our school houses to exercise the practices we know to be effective and that’s mask wearing and sanitization,” Butts said.

Butts said he hopes the policies, combined with surge in COVID cases hitting it’s peak in the coming weeks will keep schools in person

Butts is also asking parents to do their best to follow safe practices at home so school adminsitrators can do their best to keep kids in school for the rest of the year.

”We also know there are a lot of times outside of school where our staff, our parents, our students are engaged with each other and engage out in the community leading to this increase in the spread,” Butts said.

He added the best thing people can do to help kids stay in school is get vaccinated.

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