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SKYLERTS | Beginning June 19, 2020

July 24 | 4:00PM

Thank you for your patience as we worked to revise our reopening plan that now includes a four-phase approach. You will find the latest version of the plan attached and you may also view it here. We have also created an FAQ that may help answer some of your questions related to the reopening. Please remember this plan is fluid and is subject to change. Notice of updates will be communicated. 
 
You may also want to take a few minutes to hear from Superintendent Dr. Allen Bourff. Below the video, you will find a full transcript of his message. 
 
A revision to the opening plan was announced last Friday, and it significantly changed the manner in which we plan to reopen schools. 
 
A four-phase reopening, modeled after state reopening plans around the country, including Indiana, now paces our approach to a total in-person school experience for our students. 
 
Many of you were dismayed at the lack of specifics in our announcement, and for that I apologize. Knowing the difficulty of arranging for childcare, I wanted this announcement to go out as soon as possible, even without all the details ironed out. 
 
Today we are releasing the revised plan with more specific information. 
 
Why a virtual reopening plan, many have asked. We have been monitoring health data specific to Fishers. What we have seen is an increase in the positive COVID cases. Just this week, the trend line has again taken an upward direction. We are seeing more positives now than when the governor closed the schools in March. Yes, we are testing more now, but the percentage of positives has also increased. We have also seen several positive cases in our athletic programs that resumed earlier this month. 
 
As quarantining has curtailed many of those activities, we have had to examine the potential impact of such positive cases on a reopened, in-person school setting. We need to see a downward trend in positive cases to make our reopening plans for in-person school a feasible possibility. In our plan, we describe the four phases of reopening and have identified the metrics we will rely on to assist us in making decisions to move from one phase to another. 
 
Many of you have asked what virtual instruction will look like, and how it will be better and more rigorous than the eLearning your child experienced in the spring. In the revised plan, we provide details of the schedule we will follow to provide virtual instruction. Some of the lessons will be conducted via Zoom or other conferencing platforms, and there will be opportunity for discussion between teachers and students. 
 
Some will be presented in what has come to be known as the “flipped” method, with a recording of a lesson by the teachers. This method does not provide interactivity, but it does provide a pause and replay opportunity for students who need to hear it again for various reasons. 
 
Before the first student day on August 6, professional development sessions will take place for all teachers to refine their skills in virtual instruction. We recognize that even after the point at which school resumes in an in-person format, virtual instruction is going to be a method often used for those students who, for one reason or another, cannot be with us in-person. 
 
Some may ask why we have scheduled many of the lessons to occur only in the morning. We learned from feedback last spring, especially from students and parents at the secondary level, that students were spending excessive periods of time every day trying to complete assignments. We have taken that into consideration and have provided time for assignment completion in the afternoon. This is a time that many teachers will be tuned in to online questions from students who may need assistance or clarification. 
 
Our teachers are anxious to see students return, and they are also anxious to resume their work under safe and healthy conditions. Our plan did not change the many safety components that we identified in our earlier planning, with one major exception. When we move to Phase II, it will be under a requirement that all will wear face coverings. Not only is this a proven mitigation factor for COVID-19, it is in compliance with state and local mandates.
 
As I have said in the last few weeks, we are working to prepare for a safe reopening of the school year. Our plan is fluid, and subject to change, even now. I will be returning to keep you apprised of changes that may become necessary as a result of changing circumstances.
 
Despite all we have done together to fight this coronavirus, it is still with us, and we must be vigilant in our efforts to contain its spread. I thank you for your cooperation, your own preparation, and I encourage you to follow CDC, state, and local guidelines to stay healthy. Our community’s commitment to good health is crucial to our ability to reopen and operate our schools.
            
Thank you and stay healthy.

July 17 | 4:00PM

Hamilton Southeastern Schools will adopt a phased in Reopening Plan similar to the one implemented by the Governor for the State of Indiana. Based on our local health indicators that are showing an increase in infections in our community and current staffing projections, the first phase will begin with all students attending school virtually. 
 
Virtual instruction will now begin on Thursday, August 6, 2020 and will continue through at least Labor Day. Conditions will be monitored carefully and the district will not move to the next phase until identified markers established in collaboration with the Fishers Health Department have been met. The complete Four Phase Reopening Plan will be made available to all families no later than Wednesday, July 22, 2020
 
Athletic programs and extracurricular activities for HSE Schools will remain status quo (Phase I). Students participating in these summer programs will receive additional information from their building-level administrators. 
 
The district is also working with the YMCA to develop a plan to make childcare available for those families who may need that service. We understand this is a change to our original plan, but we value the health and safety of our students, staff and families, and believe this will better meet the needs of the school community. We greatly appreciate your patience and flexibility during this time.

July 10 | 4:30PM

Many of you have seen or heard about the HSE plan for reopening. We are posting that plan today, and I encourage you to become familiar with it. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how fluid this plan is. We adhere to the guidelines of the CDC, the Fishers Health Department, the Indian State Department of Health, and the Governor’s Office. As these agencies become more informed and the guidelines are changed, we too, will adjust appropriately and change. I urge you to monitor our website for changes that take place.

Over the last few weeks, parents of nearly 10,000 students have gone online through Skyward to inform us of their intentions to send their children to school in the fall or to keep them home for virtual instruction. I am asking you, if you have not done so, to submit that information. We are using that information to plan our virtual instruction services and to determine how many teachers we will need for that service.

For the parents of high school students, we are very seriously considering an alternating attendance model, and it is described in more detail in the reopening plan. It may be a model that could be used at the junior high level, so we are reviewing that possibility as well. Please continue to monitor our planned site so that you are informed and know what to expect.

One of the issues on which we continue to receive messages from parents and students is the wearing of face coverings. As I said earlier, we are attempting to follow guidelines issued by the CDC and local and state health departments. In our plan we say that for students and staff face coverings are expected. We do not say, required because they may not be required. We have students who for physical or developmental reasons cannot wear face coverings, and we have teachers, who from time to time, may exempt students from wearing face coverings. Under what circumstances would a teacher do that? Perhaps when they take a class outside when distancing can be maintained, or during quiet classroom time when there is no talking and students can be distanced, or during times when approximately half the class is out of the room and the remaining half can stay distanced.

As I have said earlier this week in discussion with the school board, this plan will not satisfy all. There are strongly held views on both sides of multiple issues. The underlying purpose of our efforts is to provide as safe an environment for students and staff as possible. I acknowledge and appreciate that all of you are concerned about and dedicated to that same issue. We will continue to adjust our plan as we are advised and as we respond to new data.

Accessing the plan should be simple if you go to our website, you will gain access to the plan through a link in a banner near the top of the screen. We will highlight dated changes in a blocked section at the top of our plan as those changes are made. In the upcoming weeks, I will alert you to changes in the plan and spend time to clarify areas of the plan that we learn through your input that need further development or explanation.

In closing, I remind all parents who have not made their intentions known regarding the attendance options for their children this year, please enter those intentions in Skyward. Your input is crucial to our planning.

July 1 | 3:30PM

This update is coming to you earlier than usual due to the July Fourth holiday. First, I would like to thank the 4,500 families who have already completed the Return to School Questionnaire in Skyward. This information is helpful in giving us a starting point as we continue to make arrangements for the fall semester. While it may be difficult for you to decide how you will proceed without yet having all the information, you can go back in and adjust your answers as needed. To complete the form, please log into Skyward Family Access via a web browser (you will not see the forms in the app) and click on “Back to School Forms” on the left menu bar to access the questionnaire. 
 
This is an extremely busy time for us as we plan to the best of our ability the reopening of our schools and facilities. As a reminder, I will be presenting a first draft of our reopening plan to the Hamilton Southeastern Teachers Association tomorrow, July 2. This draft was created with the help of the Fishers Health Department and our School Reopening Task Force, comprised of some 50 people – parents, teachers and administrators. I expect it to go through another round of edits before I present it to the School Board on July 8. A detailed, finalized version will be available to you and the public on Friday, July 10. I want to thank you for your patience. There are many variables to consider and we must try do what is in the best interest of all our students and staff. Please also try to remember, this plan, can change at any time depending on various circumstances. We, as a community, must remain flexible and be prepared to shift and adapt. 
 
We understand this Independence Day and weekend may feel and look different than ones you have celebrated in the past. But we do wish you and your family a Happy Fourth, and we are grateful that we can still honor our nation’s heroes for all the incredible sacrifices they have made to bring us this day. Take care and be safe. 

June 26 | 3:30PM

This message focuses on our reopening preparations, and I ask that you share the content of this message with your friends and neighbors who have children in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools. 
 
I know that you are concerned about your children’s education and daily care and are, therefore, anxious to learn more about our reopening plans. Yesterday, the Hamilton County schools released a joint statement with a few details on how we, together, will handle the return of our students and staff in accordance to the local health department recommendations. This release prompted many to inquire about details of a reopening plan, but there is much more to do, much more information to process before the plan is ready for the public. 
 
I am turning to you to assist us in gathering crucial planning information. In Skyward, under the “Back to School Forms,” we have a “Returning to School Questionnaire.”  This form will provide us with vital information in terms of understanding staffing and facility needs. 
 
Some of the questions include: 

  • Will your student be returning to school? In-person, virtually or withdrawing?
  • More often than not, will your student ride the bus to school and eat school-provided lunch?
  • Does your student have reliable internet access at home? 

By answering these questions, we will be able to gain important insights on what our students will need when they return in August and what we will have to do to meet those needs. And don’t worry, you will be able to go back in and adjust your answers as needed as we release more information and your situation changes. I thank you in advance for taking the time to complete that questionnaire. 
 
Our School Reopening Task Force, of some 50 people -- parents, teachers and administrators are currently reviewing a first draft of our reopening plan. That plan was composed by several members of the HSE staff and has been reviewed by the Fishers Health Department. Once we gather feedback from the Task Force and make necessary revisions, we will share it with the Hamilton Southeastern Teachers Association on July 2. It will go through another round of edits before I present it to the School Board on July 8. I expect to have a detailed, finalized plan available to you, our school community, on Friday, July 10
 
As we prepare for our reopening, we are receiving thoughtful, sometimes research-based and often impassioned input from parents. It is understandable when their children are involved. Some are in favor of seeing face masks required, others who argue that face masks should be optional. Some who demand that distancing be required; others who say, “business as usual, please.” I have reminded our Task Force members, and I will remind you, that all perspectives are derived from what parents believe is in the best interests of their children.  
 
I assure you that we are forming a plan in the interest of the health and wellbeing of ALL students and staff. Also, please understand this plan will be fluid and ever-changing based on new information from the Indiana State and Fishers Health Departments. 
 
Thank you for your patience and thank you for your assistance.

June 19 | 3:30PM

As I reported a few weeks ago, a task force to examine issues and challenges related to the reopening of school has come together, and the process has begun. After gathering input from the members of the task force, administrators representing all areas of district operations convened to develop a plan.
 
After working with the Fishers Health Department, and relying on guidelines established by the CDC, I will be sending a first draft of that plan to the task force early next week. I am asking the group to critically review it for areas that can be clarified or improved. A final plan will be released in early July after revision and improvements have been completed. The purpose of this effort is to plan, prepare and respond. Our underlying goal is for students to report to their respective schools on August 5 as scheduled. Provisions will be made for students who are unable to attend under current circumstances. Details on safety features of the reopening will be available in the text of the plan. The health and well-being of all in our buildings, students and staff alike, is priority #1.  
 
There will be many procedural and operational changes that will become a new normal, and as I stand here, I am confident that new facts and concerns are developing that may require us to adapt and amend even our well-developed plans. In other words, we must be flexible to emerging needs and adapt as necessary. 
 
A debt of gratitude goes to the Hamilton County superintendents who convene weekly to collaborate on the strategies being discussed and considered in their respective districts for the common challenges that we all face as school officials. In that group, we also have an official from Guerin High School and the Options Charter Academy.  
 
While this is a challenging time, it is also an exciting time. We are looking forward to seeing our students again. After all, schools were built with them in mind, and an empty school building is simply not natural. We are excited to be planning for the energy that comes with a new school year!
 
For our seniors and their families, officials from both high schools are sending you details of the graduation ceremonies on July 10 and July 11. Be looking for those video announcements today, June 19. 
 
For the school community of Hamilton Southeastern High School, I want you to know that we have been screening and interviewing candidates for the principal’s position. We have considered some outstanding individuals to replace Mr. Cripe, who is leaving HSE to assume a superintendent's position in Oak Hill Schools near Marion, IN. We wish him well, and we look forward to working with our new principal. I anticipate making a recommendation of an individual to fill the HSE principal’s seat to the school board at next week's meeting. 
 
Finally, this message comes on a significant date in our history, June 19 or Juneteenth, the day on which the end of slavery is commemorated. This district stands in support of all our students, but at this time in our history, it is important that we emphasize our dedication to and support of our black students. I acknowledge Juneteenth to highlight the end of a deeply disturbing period in our history and to celebrate the hope and optimism associated with this day.
 
To you all, I remind you that the precautions that have become common practice for public health - the hand washing, the social distancing, the face coverings are still important. Please take care of yourselves. As you have heard me say before, we’re #INThisTogether.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools

  • Central Office
  • 13485 Cumberland Road, Fishers, IN 46038
  • Office Hours: M - F 7:30am - 4:30pm 
  • (317) 594-4100  (800) 905-6665
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  • HSE Schools wants to hear from you! To send a general inquiry to the District Administration Office, click here. 

Our Mission

Hamilton Southeastern Schools, as a forward-thinking school district, provides educational opportunities to ensure the success of each and every student, to become a responsible citizen and to positively influence an ever-changing world community.