KENDALLVILLE — First Lakeland, then Central Noble and now East Noble schools are reverting to temporary virtual learning due to numerous people out with COVID-19.

Friday afternoon, East Noble called off in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday to try to give students, teachers and staff a chance to recover and return to school buildings.

This is the second time East Noble has been forced to take some time out of buildings due to COVID-19, after East Noble High School was shut down for three days back in August due to a high number of students being impacted by the virus.

“At East Noble our teachers work tirelessly to provide a high-quality education for students and our priority is to keep them in school and learning. Unfortunately, with the current COVID surge we have determined we cannot continue operating with limited staff members across all our buildings,” Superintendent Teresa Gremaux said in a notice to families sent out Friday around 2:30 p.m. “Therefore, ALL East Noble buildings will be conducting e-Learning on Monday, January 17, and Tuesday, January 18. Classes will resume on Wednesday, January 19. All athletics will be suspended Sunday through Tuesday.”

East Noble is not the only local school hit hard by COVID-19 lately.

On Tuesday, Lakeland announced it would go virtual with all of its buildings for a week as the district simply didn’t have enough teachers and subs to cover all of its classrooms. On Thursday, Central Noble announced a one-day e-learning day on Friday at Central Noble Jr./Sr. High School.

Five school districts in Allen County have also been forced to go virtual at least temporarily due to massive COVID-19 impacts.

Indiana is seeing all-times highs in new COVID-19 cases as the extremely infectious omicron variant of the virus has begun to circulate the state. Cases have more than tripled in the last two weeks, doubling the previous record highs set back in December 2020.

Statewide hospitalizations are at new record highs and statewide death counts are climbing toward their all-time peak again.

Students are generally at low risk from the virus, with deaths being extremely rare, although youth hospitalization numbers have been higher in recent months since the delta variant arrived in Indiana in July. Adults, however, have varying levels of risk based on their age and general health, especially if they’re unvaccinated as is the case for slightly over 6-in-10 Noble County residents.

Like all schools in the area, East Noble has seen more cases in its buildings this school year as compared to the entirety of the 2020-21 session.

East Noble High School has reported 86 cases of COVID-19 as of the state schools dashboard most recent update, already above the 73 total cases for all of last school year.

East Noble Middle School has had 48 student cases (37 in 2020-21), Rome City Elementary has had nine (nine in 2020-21), Wayne Center Elementary reported 15 (eight in 2020-21), North Side Elementary has tallied 19 cases (17 in 2020-21), South Side Elementary has seen 14 (10 in 2020-21) and Avilla Elementary logged 27 (18 in 2020-21).

Gremaux reminded parents to monitor their children’s health and not send them to school if they are sick.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind parents to screen their children prior to sending them to school on Wednesday. The only way we can slow the spread is for everyone to work together and stay home if they are experiencing any of the COVID symptoms. It is important this time is spent apart from others to help us reset and keep the virus from spreading further within our community and schools,” Gremaux said. “We recognize this may be an inconvenience for our families and for that we do apologize. The situation will continue to be monitored as we return to in-person learning on Wednesday.”

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