By LILY REX
The Duneland School Corporation is joining all Porter County
Schools in closing until April 10 following a March 12 directive from Gov.
Eric Holcomb on limiting gatherings and increasing social distancing to help
prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in northwest
Indiana as of this writing, but the closures from Porter County Schools,
Discovery, and Saint Pat's follow a host of local university closures and
Parents received email notices this afternoon that Duneland
Schools, Discovery Charter, and Saint Pat's, along with the rest of Porter
County, are all taking advantage of Holcomb's directive that allows schools
to miss an extra 20 instructional days without penalty under Indiana law if
they feel they need to close to help prevent the spread of the virus.
"After careful consideration and in consultation with the
Porter County Health Department and other Porter County Government
officials, all seven Porter County Superintendents and Porter County
Education Services are taking prudent and proactive measures to avert
COVID-19 from taking a foothold within our schools and community. As a
result, all Porter County schools will exercise an option to conduct hybrid
eLearning starting March 16, 2020 through April 10, 2020," a release states.
Discovery Charter School Superintendent Ernesto Martinez and
Saint Patrick School Principal Richard Rupcich told the Chesterton
Tribune that Discovery and Saint Patrick School are also closing for the
same duration in line with social distancing protocols.
Duneland School Corporation
Duneland students will have eLearning assignments, but not
every day, according to a release: "In an effort to continue educational
instruction, hybrid eLearning assignments will be posted to Canvas by 10
a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Teachers will clearly communicate
office hours and expectations for due dates with students/families."
Students and staff are welcome to gather any belongings they
may need for the extended closure between 7:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday,
March 16, but those retrieving belongings are asked to practice social
distancing. "Once the buildings are closed, they will not reopen until April
10, 2020," the release states.
All school activities are postponed until schools reopen
April 10 and will be rescheduled on a case-by-case basis. All school
facilities are closed to the public during the closure, including sports
fields, and all rentals are cancelled or postponed until April 10, according
to the release.
Students will still be able to access school meals consisting
of sack lunches and breakfast items via a grab and go meal service at
Chesterton Middle School Monday through Friday during the entire closure.
The pick-up procedure is as follows, according to the release: "Vehicles
will enter the CMS Parking area from Porter Avenue and follow the drive to
door #17. Vehicles will line up and Patrons will remain in their cars. Sack
meals will be brought to the vehicle by a Child Nutrition Staff member.
Vehicles will then drive straight and exit onto 8th Street."
The service is limited to between 11 a.m. and noon each day.
Duneland parents are also asked to contact their respective
building principals immediately if they, their children, or any members of
their families test positive for COVID-19.
"Closing school is never an easy decision. It is, however, a
recommended strategy to protect the health and safety of our entire
community from COVID-19, particularly the more vulnerable members of our
community," the release states.
Duneland Schools said it will keep the community updated via
its website. Porter County Administrators are scheduled to meet with the
Porter County Health Department on April 3 to discuss future plans. The
length of the closure may be extended as the situation evolves, according to
Discovery Charter School
Discovery students are scheduled to have spring break the
week of March 23, and hybrid eLearning in place of in-person instruction
will start March 31. Students will not attend school or have online
coursework the week of March 16. "We're not a 1 to 1 school, so it's going
to take us a little more time to get material together for our students,"
Once eLearning starts, paper copies of eLearning assignments
will be available during yet-to-be determined office hours for students who
may not have access to the internet or devices. Martinez said parents should
watch for a follow-up email containing details about eLearning, including
when students will be allowed to come back into the building to gather
That email will be out on or before March 30. "We'll continue
to monitor the situation, make adjustments accordingly, and give updates
should anything change," Martinez added.
Further, the Discovery Kindergarten Lottery scheduled for 6
p.m. on March 18 will continue as planned, but Student of the Month
presentations have been postponed.
Saint Patrick School
The week of March 23 will also be spring break for Saint
Pat's students, but students at Saint Pat's will have eLearning lessons
every day, according to Rupcich.
There will be no nonessential use of the Saint Pat's campus
and no nonessential travel for school activities beginning today, Friday,
March 13 and no on-campus instruction beginning Monday, March 16 and lasting
through April 10, to fall in line with the Porter County Schools decision,
A deep cleaning of the School will take place during the
closure, according to the release. Parents are asked to email Rupcich at
email@example.com if they or their students plan on
traveling within the next month.
The school office will remain open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Monday through Friday for the duration of the closure. Saint Pat's parents
and students will find eLearning assignments posted on Ren Web, as usual,
and normal eLearning procedures will apply. The release states, "There will
be boxes, labeled by grades, in the school office where e-learning
assignments can be deposited during the closure. Teachers will periodically
pick up assignments for their review and grading during the closure and
contact students by email, if needed, regarding such work."
"Our approach is to mirror the classroom activity as much as
possible and retain the standards and instructional values of our school
during this period," the release states. "As your student completes a couple
days of assignments, it would be appreciated if you dropped off the
completed work in the school office so proper instructional feedback can
All liturgical events, such as mass, confession, and Lenten
prayer, will continue as planned, according to the release, and any updates
will be posted to the parish website.