No change in sight

SHS does not plan to change from the hybrid schedule second semester


Kelsey Jones

Students take a test during their physics class with science teacher Stacey Matlock. Perry Township does not plan to return to a regular schedule next semester.

With the number of positive cases increasing while still trying to maintain a safe way for students to stay in class within the school, it’s hard to predict if anything will change. According to Assistant Principal Amy Boone, plans for the second semester will be determined by what guidance they are given from the Marion County Health Department.

SHS is preparing for the second semester, and with the pandemic going on, Perry Township administration says SHS will not switch to a full-time schedule anytime soon.

“At this time, we are moving forward with the plan that we will be continuing the hybrid schedule for high schools as mandated by the Marion County Health Department,” Boone said.

The health department says that with SHS being a bigger high school, change is not anticipated. According to Amie Iizuka, Public Health Nurse with the Infectious Disease Department, the number of cases in the community can determine the plan.

“It really depends on the number and the percentage of positivity we’re seeing in the community,” Iizuka said.

According to Principal Brian Knight, the seven-day average of positive cases in Marion County used to be about 7.7 cases. The schools positivity range in order for students to stay on a hybrid schedule is about 6% to 10%.

“As of right now, we are still planning on doing what we are currently doing,” Knight said.

With so much of the planning being based on school testing and how many positive cases there are, there is no way to predict what the future schedule will look like.

“When discussing plans for next semester, nothing has been communicated to the staff as of yet,” Assistant Principal Christopher Finkhouse said. “And nothing has been communicated to the administration from PTEC.”

This hybrid schedule has also stirred some emotions among the students at SHS. Junior Jessica Penaloza likes it.

“I like the hybrid schedule a lot better, compared to going to school every day because I get to do other activities too,” Penaloza said.

However, junior Bi Chhua does not like it.

“For me, I don’t like hybrid learning,” Chhua said. “I’d rather go back to the regular schedule before COVID because then we wouldn’t have an overload of work, as of now which we have a lot to do in just a week.”

While the high schools in Perry Township remain the same, the middle schools were planning to go back to school on a five-day, in-person schedule. But on Nov. 5, the decision was made to stay on the hybrid schedule for the safety of the students.

PTEC administrators are planning on reevaluating around the middle of January if it is safe for them to move to a four-day, in-person schedule.

“Things are changing in regards to the positivity cases in the county, and positivity in individual cases,” SMS Principal Andy Ashcraft said. “So as long as those numbers continue to be a relevant factor, I can’t tell you I know.”

With the numbers rising in Marion County, no one can predict what the COVID-19 numbers will do in Indiana, and Knight has prepared the staff to be prepared for this situation if SHS does go fully virtual.

“As we talked to our staff earlier this week, we just told them, as always, we just have to be prepared to go fully virtual at any point,” Knight said.

According to Knight, when following the guidelines of the Marion County Health Department, Marion county would have to have around an 11% positivity rate before going fully virtual.

“We still got a little bit of a cushion there, but we’re definitely seeing cases increase in those types of things,” Knight said.

As of Nov. 7, Marion County’s seven-day average of new cases is 396.6, according to the health department.

With safety being the top priority, Perry Township will remain on the hybrid schedule until further instructions are released from the Marion County Health Department.