The Vigo County School Corp. tonight is conducting a hearing on its proposed re-opening plan for the 2021-22 school year.

The public is invited to comment, and the hearing will be conducted at the start of the meeting, which is at 6 p.m. today in the West Vigo Elementary conference center.

Superintendent Rob Haworth will present the plan, and the board will be asked to approve it after the hearing.

The plan is available at vigoschools.org. A direct link is https://bit.ly/2TWopMY.

The district’s plan calls for access to in-person learning five days per week at all levels, with a virtual option available to all grades through Vigo Virtual Success Academy.

In addition, “We’re excited that the plan calls for re-opening our schools to visitors and volunteers,” Haworth said last week.

Consistent with other districts that have released plans for next year, masks will not be required for vaccinated students and staff and will be recommended for those who have not received a vaccine.

Due to a federal mandate, masks are required for all students and staff on buses, and the plan may change when the federal mandate expires. The district is not able to require proof of vaccination from students or staff.

The district encourages all who are eligible to get a vaccine “as it will help limit disruption to our school year and keep our community safe,” Haworth said.

The draft plan continues practices developed over the past year, including maximizing distance between students in the classroom, access to hand sanitizer throughout all school buildings, and enhanced cleaning procedures.

Students and staff who show symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be asked to stay home when they are sick.

The district will continue to work closely with the Vigo County Health Department to assist with the health department’s contact tracing efforts of positive COVID cases.

It also will continue to work with local healthcare leaders and the COVID-19 Task Force to respond to changes in state and federal mandates and any developments with COVID 19 in Vigo County.

Attendance policy

In the regular meeting, Tom Balitewicz, coordinator of student services, will present a new attendance policy.

The policy states that after nine absences [excused or unexcused] without proper documentation, absences will automatically be unexcused.

Students are permitted nine absences in a semester, the policy reads, and documentation with any absence is always encouraged. “After nine absences, any day missed without medical or legal documentation will be counted as unexcused, even with parent notification,” the policy reads.

If further states, “To keep you informed of your child’s absences, you will be sent a Skyward notification at 5, 7 and 9 days of absences by the school office. Refer to the Progressive Discipline Policy for our plan for unexcused absences. At any point in a student’s excessive absence occurrence, the school may refer the guardian to the Children’s Bureau. The student/guardian may be reported to the Department of Child Services for 10 unexcused absences.”

The policy provides consistency districtwide as far as when notifications/letters are sent to families and what those notifications/letters say.

A letter to parents and guardians written by Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt encourages good attendance and informs parents it is their responsibility to ensure students maintain consistent school attendance.

The letter also states, “Failure to ensure your child’s regular attendance at school is a crime and may lead to criminal prosecution.” The letter outlines Indiana’s laws related to school attendance.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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