ELKHART — Baugo Community Schools will switch to virtual-only instruction for three weeks due to a high number of quarantines from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school board on Thursday approved the move recommended by Superintendent Byron Sanders as a precautionary measure. Sanders said multiple instances of students attending schools sick has put 350 people in quarantine, including teachers and staff.

Jimtown students will learn from home from Nov. 9 through Nov. 27.

By transitioning to a virtual model, Sanders said the switch will ensure exponential quarantine and viral spread don’t continue to interrupt the district’s ability to teach and learn.

“Our hope is to keep our faculty healthy,” he said. “We would rather teach virtually than not have the capacity to teach at all due to a sick workforce.”

Moving forward, Sanders said he hopes the community accepts responsibility for slowing the spread of the virus. He said the district’s mitigation strategies are effective and the spread stems from outside the building by students coming to school sick and not reporting it.

“Our data shows that we have had no more than four possible examples of spread cases in the 60 days we’ve been on campus, which shows that our mitigation strategies are probably effective,” Sanders said. “The problem is that regardless of where the spread occurred if you come to school and we now know you’re positive, we have to quarantine everyone. So, as a result of those cases of positivity, we’ve had to quarantine 350 people, and on a campus of 2,000 that has a significant impact on our ability to teach effectively.”

Although most students at Jimtown attend school in-person Monday through Friday, Sanders said all teachers also conduct virtual-only instruction for a small number of students enrolled in that learning model, which should make the temporary district-wide move a smooth transition.

Students will return to in-person instruction on Nov. 30, leaving them with three weeks of instruction before winter recess.

Extracurricular activities will continue for now, Sanders said. Currently, spectators can attend events at 25 percent capacity. Mask wearing will be required of all spectators at all events. Events will be stopped if spectators refuse to comply and repeated noncompliance may force the cancellation of extracurricular activities, he said.

“Our community finds itself in perilous times due to this pandemic,” he said. “It is crucial that we work together to mitigate viral spread.”

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