GOSHEN — Masks, physical distancing and daily screenings will be the new normal for students at Goshen Community Schools who return to the classroom this fall.

The school corporation announced its reopening plan at the school board meeting Monday night outlining a five-course plan for the 2020-21 school year.

According to Interim Superintendent Steve Hope, the district will offer face-to-face, in-school instruction for students who can return to school. Online learning will be available for students with risk-factor health issues or those who have immediate family members with health issues.

A parent survey was conducted, and of the 4,200 families who responded, 40 percent indicated that they wanted to come back to school with social distancing measures in place; 26 percent said they wanted a blended format, meaning some in-class instruction and some online; 17 percent chose online only; 15 percent said they wanted students to return to school only if there were fewer students present each day; 2 percent said they would not be returning.

Goshen Community Schools will offer a five-course plan, starting at course three. The district may move to another course should the need arise.

Under course three, elementary students who return to school will attend five days a week from 7:50 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Art, music and physical education will all be conducted online. Meanwhile, the middle school and high school will conduct in-school instruction four days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays) at normal school hours. Wednesdays will be scheduled for online instruction, the district said.

Students who are unable to attend in-person due to health issues will attend Goshen Connections Academy online or virtually five days a week.

Staff and students will wear masks or face shields, which will be provided by the district. Students who cannot or will not wear a mask or face shield will need to utilize the online learning option.

The district plans on practicing social distancing as much as possible, school officials said. Due to the size of the corporation’s student body and facilities, it will not always be possible. In classrooms, student seating may be arranged to all face in the same direction when possible and will be spread as far apart as possible.

Visitors will be limited in the buildings and lunches will be adjusted to maximize available open space to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

If the GCS has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the district will follow directions from the Elkhart County Health Department.

“This may include closing a classroom, a section of the school, or an entire school for a period and shifting quickly to e-learning at home for students who are impacted,” the district said. “Many of our new procedures are designed to support contact tracing should a confirmed case occur. This will assist the Elkhart County Health Department with quickly identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed.”

School board president Bradd Weddell commended the administrative leaders for the “thorough plan” they put together.

“It’s going to be hard to please everyone and we understand that,” he said. “But we’re trying to see what works best for Goshen and our district.”

A survey will be sent out to parents this week to see whether they’d prefer to send their children to school or have them attend the Goshen Connections Academy.

Goshen Community Schools will reopen on Aug. 10.

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