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Just 1 small bump in first week of in-person learning after IPS started virtually

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Monday, families in Indianapolis Public Schools walked into the unknown.

Four days later, Superintendent Aleesia Johnson breathed a sigh of relief. “We did make it. I feel really good about the first week.”

Johnson believes the district’s long hours and many months of planning to return to classrooms during the pandemic coronavirus have paid off. She said there were no big issues on Week 1, just a small bump in the road.

“We have some more car riders than we’ve had before, a lot more families bringing their kids in their personal vehicle, so we have some traffic issues we’ll be looking to smooth out some,” Johnson said.

She said only bringing back the district’s youngest students — prekindergarten through Grade 3 — was a good test run, and gave teachers and parents the confidence to bring even more students in higher grade levels back in two weeks.

“We tried to think of all the different areas where we needed to have systems and protocols in place, so we were able to try those out and see how they went,” Johnson said.

She added that children have been doing a great job keeping their masks on.

“We have a weekly call with all of our school principals and that was one of things that was highlighted. Even with our youngest students (mask wearing) has not been a huge huge issue. Obviously there are reminders we have to give our students often, but we have not seen huge concerns bubble from our schools yet.”

Indiana’s latest COVID-19 data shows Marion County in the yellow, meaning the seven-day positivity rate is under 6%. As case numbers continue to rise in other parts of the state and IPS prepares to bring even more students back, Johnson asks families to be flexible.

“Obviously, when we’re bringing people together, the fact of the matter is there’s likely to be at some point someone who contracts COVID-19. For me, it’s just making sure our team is ready to respond to that so we have the proper contact-tracing protocols in place so that we can keep everyone as safe as possible.”

The coming week was supposed to be the district’s fall break, but Johnson said it will now be an all-virtual week. In the week of Oct. 19, every grade level will return to in-person learning, except those families who choose to continue virtually.