As Ben Davis High School Goes Virtual, Superintendent Talks About The Problems He Sees

INDIANAPOLIS — More schools in central Indiana have moved to virtual learning due to COVID-19 and other illnesses causing staffing shortages.

Ben Davis High School at Wayne Township Schools MSD is one of them. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts informed parents Wednesday night students will be learning virtually for the rest of the week.

“We were having staffing issues with Ben Davis High School in particular, with its size, nearly 4,000 kids, grades 10 through 12, and the number of classes we covered,” Butts said.

He said they were doing everything they could to keep the school in person, but at the end of the day they just didn’t have enough healthy staff.

“We had multiple classes meeting in big places like the gymnasium just because the staff was away,” Butts said.

Butts is optimistic that by Tuesday, after the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ben Davis High School should be able to return to school in person.

“We know that with a three-day weekend coming up, that gives us five days, which is the quarantine period the CDC recommends now, so we can get our staff and students back,” Butts said. .

Butts said that currently the majority of outages at schools in Wayne Township are not attributed to COVID, but to teachers feeling unwell.

He said the time it takes to get tested may play a role in staff not finding out whether or not they have COVID.

“It takes two to three days to get a PCR test and it takes two to three days, they say even three to five, to get the results,” Butts said.

At this point, he said many staff and students will already be able to return as long as they do not show symptoms.

From Jan. 3-7, Wayne Township had 820 students in quarantine along with 21 staff members.

Wayne Township isn’t the only system having to close schools, IPS, Anderson, Greenfield and Warren Township have all had to go virtual in some schools or even the entire district.

For parents like Tim Baker, it can be frustrating.

“Every student simply learns best in person,” Baker said.

He has two children in the Wayne Township school system, one in Ben Davis and another in elementary school.

Baker said he fears these COVID outages could cause more Ben Davis to be virtualized, which could be problematic for his family.

“It would affect my work, my wife and I would have to make arrangements,” he said.

Butts said Ben Davis is the only school that needs to be away right now, and they are doing their best to keep all Wayne Township students in school.

“We’re going to continue in our school houses doing the practices that we know are effective and that’s mask-wearing and sanitizing,” Butts said.

Butts said he hopes the policies, combined with an increase in COVID cases peaking in the coming weeks, will keep schools in person

Butts also asks parents to do their best to follow safe home practices so that school administrators can do their best to keep children in school for the rest of the year.

“We also know that there are many times outside of school where our staff, our parents, our students are engaged with each other and engaged in the community, which is driving this increase in the spread. “, Butts said.

He added that the best thing people can do to help children stay in school is to get vaccinated.

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