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MCCSC students return to the classroom Tuesday amid COVID-19 pandemic



Monroe County, Indiana – The Monroe County Community School Corporation began in-person classes for the 2020-21 school year Tuesday with its new modes of instruction to combat the spread of COVID-19. Elementary schools are holding in-person classes each day, but middle and high schools are on a hybrid schedule.

MCCSC created a series of metrics to decide how and when to allow students to attend in-person classes throughout the school year, phasing in face-to-face instruction. These phases include red, meaning entirely online, yellow, a hybrid combining some online and in person and green, which allows in-person instruction five days a week. The online-only option is still available, but the majority of students returned to in-person learning, according to the MCCSC website.

Bloomington resident Mark Niswander works full time for University Information Technology Services and part time as an adjunct professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. His 11-year-old daughter, Audrey, began in-person instruction at Summit Elementary School on Tuesday. Niswander said he did his best to prepare Audrey for both online and in-person formats. 

“One of the things I was most concerned about was her not understanding the rules and then getting there and being disappointed,” he said. “I took a lot of time to explain to her throughout the summer what that would be like.”

Niswander also said he understands why some parents would keep their children at home taking online classes, but said it’s a decision every parent has to make individually. 

“I am confident in my decision,” he said. “It is an impossible decision to make, and so you never know. I believe that everybody at Summit Elementary School is doing everything that they could do to prepare.”

Andi Meyer is a registered nurse at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Her 17-year-old son, Jacob, attends Bloomington High School South and her 13-year-old daughter, Isabella, attends Jackson Creek Middle School. Meyer said for the first time in their lives, her children were excited to go back to school.

Meyer said MCCSC has been following public health guidelines to ensure maximum safety among students. Classroom sizes have been reduced, masks are required at all times except when actively eating or drinking and school supplies and personal belongings are not allowed to be shared between students. 

Meyer also said she believes MCCSC has done as much as possible to be prepared, but said lately they could’ve been more transparent, specifically regarding their metric committee meetings. 

“I’m not really sure I understand the secrecy behind the committee meetings,” she said. “At first you could watch them on Zoom, and that hasn’t really been the case so much, so I’m not sure why there’s not some transparency there.” 

Although classes are set to remain in-person for elementary school students who choose to attend them, some parents don’t believe this mode of instruction will last. 

Kayte Mathis, who works for IU Athletics, and has three children at Grandview Elementary School. She said although her children enjoyed going back, she’s not sure they’ll stay in person.

“As many people that think that this is wrong that they’re going to school, and then obviously if we get more positive cases, I see them going back to e-learning pretty quick, which I hate,” Mathis said.

MCCSC is set to determine the next phase for instruction by Tuesday. 

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