FREMONT — Fremont Community Schools Superintendent Bill Stitt told The Herald Republican Tuesday morning that the district’s elementary school will be closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak and students will be doing e-learning.
The school will be deep cleaned over the next several days in an effort to bring students back to the school for in-person learning as early as Monday.
On Monday evening a post was made to the district’s Facebook page letting parents know that the elementary school will be closed for three days starting Wednesday.
With nearly a quarter of the elementary student population in quarantine and “a handful of faculty and staff members out” due to either a positive COVID-19 test result or contact tracing guidelines, said the Facebook post, the district is “hoping to do remote learning just for those three days.”
“We want our kids in school, in person, in front of a teacher and a teacher in front of them,” Stitt said. “We want them around their friends, enjoying these things but we have to do our best to keep our kids healthy. We hope and pray that if (students) do come down with COVID-19 that they remain healthy overall.”
Stitt said Fremont middle and high schools have not been as affected as the elementary school and will remain in-person.
The school closing came on the heels of the Fremont Community Schools Board of Trustees executive meeting Tuesday night to discuss possible litigation after Stitt received an email from Andrew Lies, a parent of students attending Fremont schools, indicating he and other parents would file a civil suit against the district’s COVID-19 policies — specifically those concerning unvaccinated students and adults and contact tracing quarantine procedures — if the trustees failed to take action.
In his Sept. 16 email to Stitt, Lies said he and other parents intended to file a “civil complaint” against the board “unless this policy is changed to give equal protection to everyone and stop discriminating against the ‘un-vaccinated.’ If we the people give the STATE an inch they will keep intruding on our Freedoms.”
Lies also addressed Stitt and the board in person during its monthly meeting on Sept. 20, saying, “I’m a little insulted that it’s not even an agenda item this week after all of the passionate speeches, so, a little concerned that no action was taken.”
In August parents filled the Fremont Community Schools Administration Office to share their thoughts and concerns with the district’s coronavirus policies concerning mask mandates, vaccinations and quarantines from contact tracing.
During the Sept. 20 board meeting, Lies also threatened suit, saying, “I highly recommend that the board makes a quick decision and adds this item to be discussed and voted on and possibly changed. I’m currently working with four or five other parents and just as Northwest Allen County recently brought a civil lawsuit against its board of directors, superintendent, county health board, and I believe the governor as well, we are prepared to do that. I hope that you take action soon so we don’t have to do that.”
Under Indiana law, public bodies can hold executive, behind-closed-doors sessions for a limited number of reasons, including when they are threatened in writing to be sued or intend to initiate a lawsuit. A verbal threat of a lawsuit does not give a board the ability to hold a closed session.
So far, there are no actual suits filed against the Fremont Board of Trustees or the school district in the court serving Steuben County.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting the board discussed collective bargaining, which is also an allowed reason for holding an executive session.