The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 1:00 am

Virus cases up; schools remain open

Slight increase doesn't prompt need to make shift to remote

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools families bracing for a sudden shift to remote learning can rest easier – for now.

Although the district of almost 30,000 students continues to add COVID-19 cases, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Monday leaders don't anticipate an immediate need to pause in-person learning as it did at the end of first semester.

“We have not seen anything yet that would make us think that would be coming,” Stockman said.

Statewide, the coronavirus has infected at least 22,533 K-12 students, including 1,826 new cases reported Monday on Indiana's voluntary school virus dashboard. The number of positive tests among school employees increased by 627 for a total of 10,136 teacher and staff cases.

The school coronavirus dashboard is updated at noon Mondays and reflects data as of the previous Friday.

Locally, more than 100 Allen County schools – both public and private – reported at least 1,116 COVID-19 cases on the most recent update. This includes more than 850 children and adults learning and working in the four public districts.

In comparison, Allen County schools the previous week reported at least 1,006 total cases. It's difficult to calculate exact totals – and exact increases in cases – because the state, which provides information by school, suppresses totals of five and fewer by category – students, teachers and staff.

The Journal Gazette treats “five and fewer” as “one” when calculating totals.

For instance, data released this week for FWCS show at least 427 total cases, up from 379 cases the previous week. The increase includes four schools where student case totals were suppressed Jan. 11, thus being counted as four total cases. Now, three of those schools are reporting six student cases, and one is reporting eight for a total 26 cases – a difference of 22 compared to last week when each was assumed to be only one.

Countywide, 62 schools have five or fewer student cases while 47 schools have student case totals ranging from six to 66; Carroll High School tops the list with 66.

Most county schools have fewer than 10 teacher cases, and the same is true of staff cases. New Haven Junior-Senior High School has the most teacher cases, 18, while Wayne High School has the most staff cases, 15.

None of FWCS' nearly 50 schools has been affected more than others, Stockman said. “Again, it's not because they're getting it in the schools,” she said.

Allen County Department of Health officials have described schools as one of the safest places for children. Transmission is more common during social activities outside of school, officials said in November.

Quarantine trends at FWCS are similar to those during the first semester. Quarantine groups are generally smaller at the middle and high schools compared to the elementary schools, Stockman said. She noted that's especially true this semester because the percentage of K-5 remote learners has fallen from about 33% to 26%, meaning classes are more crowded.

Stockman didn't know whether the decline of young remote learners reflected an increased comfort level about in-person learning. However, she said, parents experienced the difficulty of learning from home with elementary students.

“You really have to be your child's teacher,” she said.

COVID-19 cases by school district

East Allen County: At least 197, including at least 131 student cases

Fort Wayne Community: At least 427, including at least 228 student cases

Northwest Allen County: At least 154, including at least 122 student cases

Southwest Allen County: At least 74, including at least 58 student cases

Source: The Indiana school virus dashboard(updated Monday to reflect Friday data); exact totals cannot be calculated because the state suppresses totals of five and fewer

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