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LOOGOOTEE – Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Loogootee Community School Corporation has done something remarkable – maintain in-person classes since the new school year began on Aug. 11.

During a two-minute Loogootee Community School Board meeting Thursday afternoon, the five members each sat at a different table while wearing face masks. The new board president this year is Chad Wade, who was chosen last week during the annual reorganization meeting.

Superintendent Chip Mehaffey spread credit around to a lot of people when he spoke after the meeting about how Loogootee has been able to keep the classroom doors open. Instead of a face mask, he wore a face shield similar to the one worn by Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

“It’s a credit to our families making great choices and keeping kids home when they are sick,” Mehaffey said. He also credited the students and teaching staff, saying they are wearing their masks correctly and doing things in the right manner.

Mehaffey said administrators have changed the class and lunch schedules, so they do not begin and end at the same time. This has resulted in less traffic in the hallways and restrooms, which was the goal.

Maintenance and custodial personnel have worked hard to keep the building clean, he said.

“It’s a little bit of luck as well,” Mehaffey said. “We have seen around the world that the virus does not discriminate.”

Mehaffey had special praise for his teachers.

“Our staff has been tremendous. They have stepped up to the plate and are working harder than ever,” he said.

From time-to-time, some students have missed days of school due to being quarantined. Mehaffey said the teachers have prepared Zoom instruction for those students, while also maintaining their regular teaching responsibilities in the classroom.

The superintendent said Loogootee has not had a problem with staff shortages this year, nor finding needed substitute teachers.

While some parents chose to keep their children home this year, a few children have returned to the classroom after starting the year at home. Students who stay home are taught online, similar to what happened last spring when all schools in the state were closed during the initial onslaught on coronavirus.

“We have more diversity now in how we are teaching kids,” Mefaffey said.

Until spring break, March 22-26, Loogootee only has one scheduled day off – Feb. 15 for Presidents Day.

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