JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Greater Clark County Schools (GCCS) is getting ready to let students out for summer break.
While some school districts pushed back the start of the school year or began with all students online, GCCS returned with a majority of students in the classroom for the 2020-21 school year.
"We were the first public school district in the state of Indiana to start school in person," said Superintendent Mark Laughner. "We started on July 29 and that was our original start date and did not change it. We started the year with just over 60% of our students in person five days per week and we finished the year right at 70% of our students in person five days per week."
Greater Clark County is made up of around 10,300 students total.
Laughner said the district did not offer a hybrid schedule like many others, and instead gave families the option to either have students come to school full-time in the classroom, or full-time online.
"We did have some bumps in the road where we had to close a school here and there for a week or two because of quarantining and not having the staff but overall, we started on time. Close to 70% of our students were in person the entire year and the school year went very well, said Laughner.
He described the school year as being intense. This is just Laughner's second year as superintendent at Greater Clark County, so he came on board just as the pandemic began forcing changes across the country.
Despite the challenges of the year, Laughner said there are bright spots that popped up. Examples he gave include improving online learning, pushing the district to make open communication with the community a top priority, and the ability for educators to meet virtually for meetings which allows them to stay in their own buildings and cut down on travel outside of the classroom.
"To be honest, I think our school year, under the circumstances, was very successful," he said.
As plans are being made for next school year, Laughner is hopeful that 90-95% of students will return to class in person, but the district will offer a virtual option.
He said elementary and middle schools are hiring interventionists to address any potential learning losses from this school year.
It's still not clear what COVID safety protocols will look like in the fall.
"As far as masks, we haven't determined that yet in Greater Clark," said Laughner. "My general feeling in Greater Clark is that masks will be optional, if students would like to wear a mask while they're in school that'll be fine, if staff want to wear a mask that'll be fine, but I don't think that we'll mandate it."
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