Members of the Vincennes Community School Corp. Board of Trustees kicked off the new year first thing Monday morning with hopes of a better 2021.

“My desire is that everyone has a much smoother year,” said newly-elected board president Karla Smith following the very brief business meeting.

“I’m so proud of Mr. (Greg) Parsley and the staff and the students for how they’ve handled the obstacles of the last year. It’s been amazing to see everyone work together, and things really have gone as smoothly as they possibly could. We’re still in school, and I think there was a time none of us thought that would happen.”

So Smith said it was her honor to take over the helm of the board and lead them all into a (hopefully) less-chaotic 2021.

“We don’t know what to expect,” she said with a chuckle, “but I’m certainly excitedly to lead everyone through.”

Smith, elected by the other board members, took over for past-president Pat Hutchison at Monday’s meeting, one where board members handle several new-year housekeeping items, such as electing members to various committees and getting a brief financial update.

Board members — and superintendent Greg Parsley — were in agreement that they hope Smith presides over something of an easier year.

“I’m excited,” Parsley said. “I feel like we’ll get ourselves back to normal come the second semester.

“The craziness of 2020 got a lot of things taken away from these kids, and my hope is that some of those begin to come back into play,” he said.

The VCSC was one of two local school corporations that opted to postpone in-person instruction by about 10 days due to the continued spread of COVID-19.

On Jan. 4, students and teachers engaged once again in e-learning instead, offering a kind of forced quarantine in an effort to prevent virus spread following holiday gatherings.

VCSC students will return to in-person instruction on Thursday, and while Parsley said they have no confirmed numbers yet of how many students and teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 during the Christmas break, rough estimates indicate it isn’t all that bad.

“What we’ve asked parents to do is to report positive cases,” he said, indicating that information was then collected by a school nurse.

“It’s minimal,” he said. “But it’s also been on the honor system, and we know that probably not everyone is doing that.

“We’ll have a much better handle on it when students return on Thursday, once we get attendance figured out. But we still don’t expect those numbers to be alarming.”

Knox County on Monday continued its recent slow decline in the number of daily reported cases.

The state Department of Health recorded 17 new cases of COVID-19 here, bringing the total now to 3,154.

An additional 35 cases were reported over the weekend; 45 more cases were reported on Friday.

Regardless, Parsley said he, too, still feels good about his decision to delay the return to in-person instruction.

“We gave it time to get things sorted out,” he said. “We know our students have been working well from home. They’ve done the right thing over this last week and a half.

“And, hopefully, we’ll have (thwarted) a spread of the illness from holiday gatherings.”

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