NEW ALBANY, Ind. — Students in New Albany Floyd County Schools are preparing to go back to school in a few weeks and leaders said they're ready for them.
The Indiana school corporation was originally set to start on July 29, but the school board voted to push that date back by two weeks to August 12.
Right now, NAFC is planning to hold in-person classes. Assistant Superintendent Bill Briscoe said reestablishing that teacher-student relationship is vital.
"We value that face-to-face opportunity," he said.
Briscoe said holding in-person classes isn't just about students' education. Seeing students allows staff to check in on how students are doing mentally and emotionally, as well as help with other needs.
"We can feed them, we can offer that face-to-face support that virtual doesn't let us do as well," he said.
If families aren't comfortable sending their kids to school, they can still choose full-time virtual classes.
NAFC is also implementing a new plan that involves 7th through 12th graders in a hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning. Under the plan, students will alternate when they go to school, with about half of them in the buildings each day.
“We know that it is an inconvenience in some families to have a split schedule, but again, it’s all done in the spirit of let’s do as much as we can to provide what we can safely,” said NAFC Superintendent Brad Snyder.
Students in 7th to 12th grade who have already chosen virtual instruction won't see any changes.
Assistant Superintendent Briscoe said NAFC is feeling "pretty good" about the plan for this school year, but he is aware that things could change.
"We've told our community from day one that we need to be fluid and nimble," he said. The corporation is in close communication with the Floyd County Health Department to monitor case numbers both locally and statewide.
"Now, once we get into school and we get some data once we get into our classrooms, that could cause the plan to flex," Briscoe said.
New Albany Floyd County Schools usually follows a "balanced calendar," which means shorter summers and longer breaks in the fall and winter. Briscoe said the coronavirus pandemic has "thrown a monkey wrench" into that plan, but it also means that his district will be one of the first in the area to return to school.
"When you are the first to go, you're the first to go," he said. "And everybody's watching and probably learning from us..."
Greater Clark County Schools will be one of the first districts in southern Indiana to return to the classroom, starting on July 29. More back-to-school dates for Indiana schools can be found here.
Recent data from the Floyd County Health Department shows an increase in COVID-19 cases in the county. On July 22, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued a statewide mask mandate that will go into effect on July 27.
The Floyd County Health Department issued a follow-up mandate, requiring masks in the county starting July 24 and remaining in effect for the next six weeks.
"We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and mask wearing is an easy and effective way to protect our friends, neighbors and loved ones," New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said in a statement.
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