Lafayette School Corporation, West Lafayette School Corporation, and Tippecanoe School Corporation will be closed starting Monday, March 16, and begin remote learning instruction on Wednesday, April 1, in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
According to a joint statement released Friday, each school district will be on an “extended” spring break, which will end on March 31. On April 1, classes will resume using remote instruction, which will continue until at least April 3.
“We don’t close schools willy nilly,” said Lafayette School Corporation Superintendent Les Huddle. “This is a very serious decision. And it’s because of a very serious situation worldwide.”
Huddle said the coming two weeks will function as an extended spring break, with no e-learning for students and no teachers at school properties. The week of March 30, teachers will return to finalize plans for e-learning from April 1 through April 3.
Then, Huddle says, another decision will have to be made.
“Our plan right now is on Thursday, April 2, to look at the latest and greatest information that’s out there, look at the health of our community, and then communicate with parents and staff what we’re going to do the following week,” Huddle said.
Huddle said the corporations are still figuring out how to provide online instruction to students who lack internet service or computers at home.
“We know there’s families who don’t have wifi. That’s part of our plan we’re still working on,” Huddle said. “Are we just going to make phone calls to the parent or to the student, depending on the age?”
West Lafayette School Superintendent Rocky Killion said closure discussions have been ongoing for weeks. But without any confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Tippecanoe County as of Friday, Killion said the school corporations needed to wait for guidance from the governor’s office and the Indiana Department of Education.
“When it comes to spring break, and possible contact and possible travel, we were highly advised that having a 14-day window to ensure that people didn’t come back and — possibly having the virus, and might infect others — figured that was the best decision to make, so it didn’t spread,” Killion said.
A statement released Friday afternoon notified school families that extracurricular activities and events would also be suspended for the time being.
“I’m always cautious with the idea that it’s about me or what I want,” Killion said. “I think we have to put the ‘we’ back into this situation. It’s about keeping everyone safe.”
This story will be updated.