ELKHART — Elkhart Community Schools is the first area district to say it won't offer a full-time, in-person instruction option for students this fall.

Under the 'hybrid' plan, that was approved by the district’s school board this week, students can either take entirely virtual classes or opt for two days of in-person instruction in addition to e-learning days.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases continue to hit the Elkhart County area particularly hard. In late June, the county had nearly 3,000 coronavirus cases. As of Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 3,834 positive cases and 62 deaths in the county.

“As we were looking at the guidelines from the CDC regarding spacing students out and the ability of students to not have to wear masks, we were just realizing that the best way to accommodate all of that was to have fewer students in our buildings,” said Elkhart Superintendent Steven Thalheimer. He said school officials also took into consideration the fact that the district is a majority-minority district, citing studies that show Black and Latino people are more likely to contract the virus.

Half of the Elkhart students who choose the two days of classroom instruction will take classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the other half going back on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to the district’s plan. Fridays will be an e-learning day for all groups.
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