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July 12, 2020

4/8/2020 2:27:00 PM
JCSC continues online learning
Seniors on track to graduate; district to meet mandated 160 days by April 30

"We are trying to be cautious and conservative." That is the new mantra for Teresa Brown, superintendent of the Jennings County Schools Corporation.

With in-school instruction suspended through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, Brown said the district will continue it's online learning program at least through April 30.

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb on Friday announced that districts must find a way to meet the state mandated 160 days of instruction before the school year officially ends in May.

Because the district decided not to take advantage of the 20 waiver days allowed by the state, and the district has initiated online learning on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays since March 16, with the exception of spring break, which was March 23-27, Jennings schools are on track to have met the mandate as soon as April 30, Brown said Monday.

"I have a great team," she added. "Nothing is done in isolation."

In the meantime, Brown has met regularly on the district's Google Meet platform with her staff, administrators, teachers and board members. Brown also has been networking with superintendents from other school districts.

Despite her 20 years as a building principal and a four-year stint at the Indiana State Department of Education, the COVID-19 pandemic is a brand-new challenge.

"I've absolutely never seen anything like this," Brown admitted. "The last four weeks have been crazy busy. The decisions [necessary to keep the district operating] have been endless."

"We've made a lot of really good decisions and we're staying ahead of the curve," she said. "The combination of preparation and being cautious and conservative is serving us well. We are really in good shape.

Most of the district's 239 seniors, she said, are all on track to graduate as usual, although she said it's too soon to know if there will be an in-person graduation ceremony, scheduled for May 30.

Even while schools are closed, JCHS counselors have been working to determine which seniors need additional support and reaching out to those students by phone or online, if possible, she said.

A "virtual" online ceremony may be considered, but with 30 percent of Jennings County students unable to access the internet at home, it doesn't seem like a possibility, she said. "We will do the best we can, once we know what's possible. It's just too early to know when we can be together."

District's food distribution program ended

The meal distribution program that had been operating at the Jennings County Middle School was suspended after last Thursday, Brown said, to further protect employees and families from the virus. Any food that was left was donated to local food pantries.

On Thursday, employees gave out 47,000 meals, up from 37,000 the first week distribution was offered.

From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 11, the Gleaners Mobile Food Pantry will deliver meals for 600 families at the JCHS, 820 W. Walnut St., North Vernon.

Ending that program was a difficult decision, Brown said. But she and her staff felt better about the decision when they received word that Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration were going to increase benefits for families that rely on its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

All Hoosier families will now receive the maximum allotment based on household size: a one-person household will receive $194; a two-person household will receive $355; a family of three, $509; four, $646; five, $768; six, $921; seven, $1,018; and eight, $1,164, and from there adding $146 for each person in the household.

Families that were already receiving the maximum benefit amounts will not see an increase.

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