Schools open this Tuesday August 9th

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Later than several schools in this area, Switzerland County officially begins its 2016-2017 school year this Tuesday, August 9th, when students report for their first day.

Teachers and staff will begin their year this Monday, August 8th, and elementary schools will be holding open houses that night so that students and parents can visit the classrooms and meet classmates and others (for details, see stories on page B-6 of today’s edition).

“We’re really excited about the opening of our new school year,” Superintendent Mike Jones said. “We’re going to have our new addition open over at Jefferson-Craig. The Pre-K program will now be down at Jefferson-Craig and not at Switzerland County Elementary any longer, so that will be a change.”

Jones said that the corporation will again be running a bus from Switzerland County Elementary School for any fifth or sixth grader who wants to participate in middle school sports; and the corporation is also looking at starting an activity bus, designed for kids who want to participate in other extra curricular activities and who may need rides after school.

“We created a new section of fourth grade at Jefferson-Craig this year, because we were looking at a large third grade that was going to be going from three sections down to two,” the superintendent said. “So we created a new section of fourth grade to help keep those classes smaller in number.”

Again this year all students in grades 3-12 will be receiving a Chromebook; and that rollout is currently going on.

Rollout is being continuing in the Switzerland County High School cafeteria today (Thursday, August 4th) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and tomorrow (Friday, August 5th) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Families will pay a $25 per year technology fee for each student in grades three through 12. Cash, check or credit cards are accepted. There will be regular maintenance/application updates on the devices. Students must have paid each year’s tech fee to be eligible to take ownership upon graduating.

Jones said that the corporation has also received notification from the Indiana Department of Education that it will be contacting Switzerland County Schools in the coming weeks with regard to the school’s application to allow “E-learning” days. If approved, the corporation will be able to conduct a regular school day for students who have their Chromebooks even if the students are not at the school building. This would help with missed days due to weather or teacher in-service; and Jones noted that the teachers would be able to log on and see every student in their class also log on, and two-way participation in the class would happen, so that the students could in theory go to school sitting in their own homes.

“I think that will give us some options,” Jones said. “We’ve gone ahead and anticipated and tried to schedule some E-learning days in the calendar. Now that we’re closer to going to one-to-one, we’re excited to join other schools who can offer the E-learning days.”

Another important issue is that, with the beginning of the school year, drivers around the county need to be more aware and careful with regard to school buses being out on the roadways. In particular, drivers should be on the lookout for the swing arm Stop Signs that are used by the buses to stop all traffic (state law says all traffic must stop when a school bus stop sign is displayed). Not paying attention and driving past a stopped school bus is not only illegal, it could have deadly consequences.