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Gary Schools Giving Option Of Classroom Learning Or E-Learning For New School Year

GARY, Ind. (CBS) -- Parents everywhere have been waiting to find out whether their kids will be returning to class in a few weeks.

On Monday, parents in Gary got the answer.

As CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reported, 4,200 students attend eight schools in the Gary Community Schools system. They will have two options for learning, with COVID-19 in mind, when school starts on Aug. 12.

"You can choose brick-and-mortar or you can choose e-learning, because we certainly understand that we have some parents and some students who don't feel comfortable coming back to school in the fall, whether it be for underlying health concerns, or they just not feeling prepared to come back in the fall - and that is certainly OK," said Gary Community Schools Emergency Manager Dr. Paige McNulty.

McNulty said all students will be given computers.

"If a parent chooses the e-learning option, we will be providing all of those students with a Chromebook, they will be sent home," she said. "It has a hotspot in it, so the students will have internet access at home."

For students heading to class, masks will be mandatory at all times. The school system spent $2.5 million in federal assistance money to make sure all students are prepared for in-school learning, during the pandemic.

Every student will also be given a wellness kit.

"The wellness kit will have a thermometer inside of it; also, two masks, hand sanitizer and a checklist of symptoms to look for so that parents can check students off every morning," McNulty said.

Students from the same families will sit together on the bus and there will also be seating charts on all school buses, and for classrooms and lunchrooms - so contact tracing can take place, if it's necessary.

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