South Bend Schools join other districts in pausing in-person instruction at middle, high schools

South Bend Schools join other districts in pausing in-person instruction at middle, high schools
Posted on 11/20/2020

Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings announced this morning that South Bend Community School Corporation (SBCSC) high schools and middle schools will pivot to all- virtual instruction starting Monday, November 30. Cummings did not indicate when in-person learning would resume, stating that data will be the determining factor.

Consistent with health guidelines, South Bend’s elementary schools will continue with the current hybrid model of both in-person and eLearning. All middle and high school staff are also expected to report to their respective buildings for eLearning, just as the Mishawaka and Penn Harris Madison district staff are.

The decision came following discussions with South Bend Community School Board members, principals at middle and high schools, and members of the corporation’s COVID-19 Task Force, which includes Dr. Mark Fox of the St. Joseph County Health Department.

“Obviously, this is a complex decision, but based on the information from area health experts, including Dr. Fox, there is strong evidence that elementary school students are not ‘efficient transmitters,’ meaning the risk of spread is low in elementary classrooms,” Cummings said.

“The biggest piece of community transmission is happening at small to medium social gatherings like birthday celebrations and dinner parties, not at our schools,” Cummings said.

“For the community, we encourage mask wearing, hand washing, staying home if ill, and maintaining social distancing to contain the spread of the virus.”

Two groups of students will return to in-person learning: high school students who are part of the Career Technical Education programs and whose certification is dependent upon hands-on, in-person training; and any high school students whose grades put them at risk of not graduating.

According to the new recommendations set forth by the St. Joseph County Health Department, all extracurricular activities should continue virtually and athletic events should limit spectators to only parents or siblings of participants. SBCSC is following these guidelines, though the Indiana High School Athletic Association is not calling for a pause in athletic competitions.

“As we have for the past several months, we will continue to monitor the health data, decide on closures on a school-by-school basis, and base our decisions on that data, doing what we believe is best for our students and staff,” Cummings said.

Empowerment Zone school families should refer to communications from the Empowerment Zone concerning Navarre Middle School.

Contact: Susan Guibert, Chief Communications Officer, [email protected].