UPDATE: Wayne County schools closing starting March 16; Head Start closing March 17

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All public and private school districts in Wayne County will be closed beginning Monday, March 16.

The school campuses will be closed to students at the end of the Friday, March 13, school day, and students will not be allowed on campus until April 13.

Centerville-Abington Schools, Northeastern Wayne Schools, Nettle Creek Schools, Richmond Community Schools, Western Wayne Schools, Seton Catholic Schools, Community Christian School and Richmond Friends School, have announced they will be closed beginning March 16 and will resume school April 13.

Fayette County School Corp., which operates the Whitewater Career Center in Connersville that draws students from Western Wayne and Centerville schools, and New Castle, which operates the New Castle Career Center, also have decided to cancel classes.

Wayne County Head Start also is canceling classes and home visits through April 13. Parents can visit their child’s classroom between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday to pick up food and activity packets.

Wayne County school district leaders said in statements sent to families and the media that they believe that closing schools until April 13 is in the best interest for their students, staff and community.

The decision to close schools for an additional week was made in light of the announcement from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to discontinue gatherings of more than 250 people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Educators say it is important to note that currently there are no confirmed cases of the virus within Wayne County. However, the closure will minimize any exposure in large groups and will allow plenty of time to have all buildings and buses cleaned.

School officials acknowledge this is a fluid situation and recognize that there are many questions families may have that they will try to answer.

Will elearning be used?
Indiana will not require school districts to make up missed days related to coronavirus protection, with waivers being granted for as many as 20 days.
Lincoln Middle/High School students are taking home their Chromebooks, and students in grades K-5 are taking learning activities that can be completed at home. Students and parents are encouraged to check their email throughout the extended time away from school, as teachers may provide work that can be done from home.
Superintendent George Philhower said that if Western Wayne chooses to execute some form of elearning that they will communicate that with families via email, their automated phone/text system, and social media.
Philhower said families will be able to contact their children’s teachers and administrators while school is not in session, with email recommended as the best method. They can call each building, but will need to leave a voicemail message. Lincoln Middle/High School can be reached at (765) 478-5916 and Western Wayne Elementary at (765) 478-3622. Messages will be checked regularly throughout the day and calls will be returned as soon as possible.
As of Friday, Centerville Superintendent Phil Stevenson said the district is not going to use elearning at this point in time, but will look at its options later.
RCS officials say they will be closed through April 10, and will not be utilizing eLearning during this closure period. However, students still are responsible for work assigned prior to the closure.
Many area schools were to take standardized tests the week of March 16 before their scheduled spring break. No information yet has been provided by the Indiana Department of Education about if or when those tests will be given later.

School activities
All school evening events have been canceled or postponed throughout the duration of school being closed. Information about individual events being rescheduled will be sent out by building principals or club/team sponsors.
There will be no athletic events or activities while school is not in session. Those activities will commence once school resumes.
Centerville school board still plans to meet at 7 p.m. March 18 as long as it doesn’t have more than 250 people in attendance, which hasn’t happened in recent years. Typically, the audience

Food and medication concerns
Western Wayne Schools will make meals available for students during the extended time away from school, with more details be announced soon. Parents can make arrangements with school nurse Kim Pattison at kpattison@wwayne.k12.in.us to pick up students’ medicine if it’s needed at home.
Richmond Community Schools will be providing daily Grab-N-Go food options at each school from 8:30-9:30 a.m. weekdays unless it’s storming. Students will get a breakfast and lunch at the same time.
Pickup sites are at the front of the buildings at Charles, Crestdale, Starr, Vaile, Test and Community Youth Services. At Fairview, pickup will be at the bus lane at the back of building and exit into the alley. At Westview, pickup is at South West B Street at the street light behind the school.
At Dennis, it’s at the bus lane on the south side of the building. Pickup is at Hibberd on J Street on the back of the building on the street at the bottom of the parking drive. Meals will be available at Richmond High School at the D Street bus lane and the Career Center parking lot at the E Street school entrance.
RCS will not serve meals over the scheduled spring break from March 23-27.
Stevenson said Centerville does not have a way to service students for food during the break.
At RCS schools, parents can pick up medicines from the school clinic until the end of the school day Friday, and from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17.

IHSAA sports announcements
Because of the number of schools closing after today for an extended period of time, it has become apparent the IHSAA boys basketball tournament series cannot be completed as scheduled. Subsequently, the boys basketball tournament is postponed immediately, the IHSAA announced at noon Friday.
Saturday’s girls gymnastics state finals at Worthen Arena in Muncie will continue as scheduled with no spectators in attendance. Richmond High School is among the teams competing. Competition will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

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