Tri-State Schools continue facing challenges amid COVID-19

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TRI-STATE (WEHT) — Tri-State schools are still facing many challenges amid the pandemic. Problems including shortages of substitute teachers and bus drivers, to a new look at next year’s school calendar.

“We have seen an increase in the number of positive cases not just in our community but actually in our school,” explained Warrick County School Corp. Supt. Brad Schneider.

School leaders say they are working hard to make sure students, teachers and staff have what they need.

“Last spring was a lot different than this Fall simply because last Spring it was a reaction to being closed down by the governor and we had to find a way to do our virtual instruction and we had to do it fairly quickly,” Supt. Schneider said. “This Fall, we had all summer to plan so we put together what I think is a very effective plan.”

Those plans including the possibility of moving students entirely online is something Warrick County High School students are doing next week until December 18 – that’s roughly 30 percent of the district’s entire population.

At the EVSC there is talk of a new calendar for Fall of 2021. The district once again will use a soft start at the beginning of the 2021 academic year. The soft start is when half of the students come in for two days and the other half for the next two days.

School leaders say this allowed students to ease in to the covid protocols and build relationships with teachers. 

“That will really be a nice opportunity for teachers and staff to be able to work at the end of one grading period as they go into the next,” said Jason Woebkenberg, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation’s Chief Communication Officer.

The EVSC is also experiencing a shortage of substitute teachers and bus drivers.As many as 14 drivers reported absent over the last three days – meaning many routes had to be combined.

Finding substitute teachers in Warrick County schools was a problem even before the pandemic.

“I mean we are always looking for additional substitute teachers even before the pandemic,” Schneider said. “We asked for more substitute teachers and now obviously it’s a greater challenge.”

In a year like none other, schools are still working through some of the growing pains, but  school leaders want to make it clear that students, teachers, and staff come first.

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(This story was originally published on November 23, 2020)

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