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The Vigo County School Corp. is delaying the start of school by one week, officials announced Thursday.

The first day of school will now be Aug. 18, one week later than the original start date of Aug. 11.

The district cites three factors: a delay in shipment of Chromebooks; more time to respond to alternative schooling options; and more time for building-level planning.

“It’s something we had been considering for a couple days. We’ve had discussions with principals, the Vigo County Teachers Association and as an administrative team,” said Bill Riley, VCSC director of communications. “The heart of this delay is that we find in-person school so important to our community that we know we have to start strong.”

Families have been given several school options; also, there are 27 VCSC schools, each different in terms of its architecture and culture. “Just the way each school has school can vary slightly, so I think we needed to give our building level leaders more time to make sure they are protecting students and staff and following that [re-entry] plan,” he said.

Also, “We’ve asked our building-level leaders to make contact with every student that wants an alternative option to make sure they understand that option and to make sure that is the option they wanted,” Riley said.

Many parents, as well as teachers, have concerns and questions about the new school year, and principals are listening to those concerns, he said.

“We need to give everybody a little more time to make sure we start safely, but also we’re starting hitting the ground running with education from day one in every single model,” Riley said.

Even with online options, more than 10,000 students “are choosing to be in our buildings” when school resumes, he said.

Reasons for the one-week delay are as follows:

Chromebook delay

Last week, the district received word that its shipment of Chromebooks for high schoolers and grades 3-8, ordered in May, has been delayed. “We want to give our teachers more time to react to this delay,” Riley stated in a news release.

Response to alternative options

The district has several alternative options to the traditional school model and the additional time will be used to react to each family’s choice, adjusting staffing to make sure every child has a quality education this year.

Families who wanted an alternative selected their choice by Wednesday, and principals are contacting each child’s family to follow up. “We also continue to refine our secondary instructional model,” Riley said.

Several students have expressed interest in a high school hybrid model, similar to what is being offered at elementary and middle school levels. With a hybrid model, students remain enrolled in their regular district school while learning from home.

High school classes are for-credit, Riley said. Some, including dual credit, provide both high school and college credit. “We have to deliver a feasible and excellent education at the high school level no matter what model someone selects,” he said.

Building-level planning

The district has “the safest possible in-school plan, and an extra week will allow the 27 schools time to define how each building will handle important parts of the plan like meals, passing periods, and recess,” Riley stated.

The delay is not related to the county COVID-19 positive rate, which, according to the Indiana State Department of Health dashboard on Thursday was 4.2%.

For reference, Avon Community Schools opened Wednesday with a county positive rate of 10.5%. “Like all corporations across the state of Indiana, we continue to monitor the positive rate and the rate continues to be a factor in our decision making,” Riley said.

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

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