AVON — They were one of the first schools in the state to close because of COVID-19, and on Wednesday, Avon Community Schools were one of the first in the state to reopen for the 2020-21 school year — but with some changes.
The district is sending students back five days a week, but there is also a plan for eLearning for families who are not ready to send their children back to the classroom. Although the option is available, the district has told parents that the eLearning curriculum will be limited and cannot mirror the full experience students will have during in-person instruction.
"We will continue to offer an online option to our families who need a little bit more time to transition their students back to school," said Dr. Scott Wyndham, incoming Superintendent.
Emotions from parents were mixed as students returned to the classroom for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
"It was rough sending them today with the masks and putting them on the bus with the masks," Breonna Anderson, a parent, said.
"We stayed up last night scared and anxious," Cody Hergott, a parent, said. "I don't like being the first school to go back but somebody has to be."
"I wish they would've just said this is what we are doing, no choice so that you don't feel like guilty because you feel guilty either way," Anderson said.
Like many districts across central Indiana, Avon Community Schools has developed some new health and safety protocols. The Avon School Board met Sunday to review those new protocols and determined they were ready and prepared to open on July 29.
"You will see in their plans additional cleaning protocols, changes in the school and classroom environment and other ways the school will look different this fall," Dr. David Stopperich, Hendricks County Health Officer said. "These are necessary for now as we get our children back into school safely this fall.
High school students will be on a new schedule this year. They're using block scheduling so that students will only have four classes each day, instead of their normal five or seven. The district says this will allow for fewer classes and fewer transitions throughout the day as well as fewer chances to congregate in the hallways between those classes.
School administrators say the new class schedules will also make transitioning easier if they're forced to close later in the year and return to eLearning.
Another change for students is the mask requirement. While they won't be forced to wear them in classes, students will be required to have a mask on them at all times and during situations like riding the bus or during the passing period in the hallways, they will be required to wear them.
The district has also added hand sanitizing stations around the schools and will be requiring students to wash their hands throughout the day.
Staff will also undergo training on COVID-19 symptoms and safety measures.
If students or staff are tested and come back positive for COVID-19, they will have to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. The Hendricks County Health Department will also be performing contract tracing for any student or staff member who tests positive.
School administrators say their plans are in full compliance with the governor's plan that was recently laid out.