EVSC elementary schools making changes to accommodate social distancing

EVSC elementary schools making changes to accommodate social distancing

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - New Information on back-to-school plans for some fourth and fifth graders within the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.

14 News is hearing that students from Highland Elementary School and Hebron Elementary School will be moving buildings.

Two of Alicia Boston’s children attend Highland Elementary, and her fifth grade daughter won’t be in the same building as her little brother.

“She’s definitely going to miss seeing some of the people at Highland that she won’t be able to see while she is at Harwood,” Boston said. “But she knows that she will still have her teacher and she’ll see her classmates.”

School officials say enrollment is so high at both schools, there isn’t enough room for everyone to social distance. So fourth and fifth graders from those schools will be moving to the Harwood Career Preparatory Academy.

Meanwhile, Harwood Prep students will be moving to the old North High School.

Each school will have an administrator, counselor, secretary and nurse on site.

EVSC Superintendent Dr. David Smith sent out the following letter on Wednesday to parents of students at Harwood Career Preparatory Academy and the Academy of Innovative Studies:

The EVSC is committed to adding safety protocols to all of our schools to ensure that students and staff return to a safe environment when schools reopen. During the past three months we have done a complete analysis of each one of our facilities in order to organize in a way that creates enough space for all students to practice social distancing in the classrooms. This will be accomplished, in part, by adjusting student schedules to lower the class sizes. 

Two of our elementary schools, Highland and Hebron, present unique issues when organizing in a manner that supports social distancing. Both of these schools have large student enrollments, which is normally not an issue due to the large size of both facilities. However, social distancing in classrooms cannot be achieved in either school with the current enrollment projections. We have taken all possible learning spaces into account for planning purposes, such as the gym and auditorium, and it is not possible to achieve this in either school building without reducing the number of students. The only way to accomplish social distancing at both Highland and Hebron is to move two grade levels out of each building to an alternative site. After looking at all possible options, Harwood’s facility offers the best solution as a temporary host site for these elementary students for the upcoming school year.

All students and staff at Harwood Career Preparatory Academy will move into the AIS facility on Diamond Avenue, which will completely free up the Harwood building for the elementary students. Moving the Highland and Hebron students into AIS was not an option because we do not want to mix elementary students with high school students. We conducted a thorough analysis of AIS (the former North High School), and determined its large size will allow it to accommodate the needs of both AIS and Harwood. Both schools will be in different areas of the building and will remain separate throughout the day, including arrival and dismissal. Support personnel for both AIS and Harwood will be in place to work with students at the AIS location. 

While these are unique times, and this may be a unique arrangement, I believe it will prove to be a positive learning situation for all students involved. We appreciate the support of parents and students, as well as the support of our faculty and staff, as we believe this is the best option to provide a safe learning environment. I apologize for the inconvenience this will create; however, all decisions we continue to make are guided by the fact we must do whatever it takes to keep all students and staff safe during the uncharted times of this pandemic.

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