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Maconaquah schools switch to virtual learning amid student spread of COVID

BUNKER HILL, Ind. (WISH) — Maconaquah School Corp. in Miami County announced Tuesday it will switch to virtual learning and cancel all extracurricular activates through Aug. 29 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The district is at least the second in Indiana to go to virtual learning since the start of the school year. Shenandoah School Corp., a district of about 1,400 students in northwestern Henry County, said Sunday remote learning will be underway for at least the next two weeks, based on a directive from the Henry County Health Department.

Maconaquah has about 2,100 students. Its two elementaries had absentee rates of more than 30%, while the middle school rate was at nearly 50% and the high school at nearly 65%. Contract tracing showed the coronavirus was being spread from student to student, the district said. Classes began in the district on Aug. 2.

Thirteen staff members and seven bus drivers in the district also tested positive for COVID-19.

“We recognize the inconvenience and are working diligently to design a plan that will allow us to return and remain in person for the remainder of the school year. Our goal is for our students to be present in our classrooms each day,” the district said in a statement on its website. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but with student health and safety at risk, we feel this is the best decision at this time. We encourage any parent with questions or concerns about their child’s education or well-being to reach out to your building principal.”

Free meals will be provided, with deliveries on Aug. 25 and 26.

News 8 reached out Tuesday afternoon to a spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education to learn if other state school districts are switching to virtual learning, or if the state is keeping track of such changes. The spokesperson said the state could potentially track the information through school-reported student attendance data, but it could be outdated and take time to bring together.