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End of School Year Update from Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker

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The letter below was shared with P-H-M Staff and Families on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.


Good Afternoon,


The CDC released an update last week regarding masking for fully vaccinated people and the St. Joseph County Department of Health’s (SJCDH) subsequently rescinded its Public Health Order 1-2021 on Thursday, May 13.


In our weekly conversation with SJCDH on May 13, we discussed the County Health Department’s requirement of masks in schools. The following guidance was shared with us:

  • Overall county case rates for COVID are down. It’s the first time since September it’s been this low.
  • Governor Holcomb issued the continuation of Executive  Order 21-12 on April 29. It is through the end of the school year. Students, staff, and external school visitors must be masked while in any school building, facility, or grounds.
  • For P-H-M Summer School and Summer Camps (beginning Monday, June 7), SJCDH gave approval for optional masking; it will no longer be required as long as social distancing and hand washing are still in place. If all of this is in place, SJCDH will not require masks indoors for classrooms for summer indoor classes and outdoor activities. 
    • SJCDH made these recommendations for the following reasons: 
      • Students ages 12+ (which is middle and high school age) have the opportunity to now get vaccinated.
      • Elementary age students are least likely to have serious complications and least likely to transmit.


Therefore based on the guidance from the St. Joseph County Department of Health at last night’s Penn-Harris-Madison Board of School Trustees meeting (Monday, May 17), I shared the following information:

  • Masks will still be required on all P-H-M buses and property through the evening of Friday, June 4. This includes the last day of school, Wednesday, June 2, for all P-H-M students grades PreK-12 and Penn High School’s Commencement Ceremony on Friday, June 4, 7:00 p.m. Should rain or inclement weather delay the ceremony, Graduation will be moved to Sunday, June 6th at 7:00 p.m., and the mask requirement will be in place through the end of that evening’s ceremony. All the prior details that Principal Sean Galiher has shared with senior families remain in effect. Click here for that information shared back in April.
  • Masks are optional starting Monday, June 7, for summer school students, summer camps, and all P-H-M staff working through the summer. Please click to read the updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols that will be in place for P-H-M summer school and camps.
  • Through the summer masks will remain required on all P-H-M buses for drivers and summer school students using P-H-M transportation per the U.S. Dept. of Transportation regulation. 
  • The First Day of School for the 2021-2022 school year is Wednesday, August 18, 2021. When school starts in the fall, the following will be in place: 
    • We will return to five (5) days per week of in-person instruction for all students.
    • We will return to normal school start times as listed on our website at this link, https://www.phmschools.org/p-h-m-school-directory
    • COVID-19 health safety protocols will continue to be adopted based on the guidance from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and St. Joseph County Department of Health (SJCDoH).
    • The Administration will continue its commitment to transparency through communication and the COVID dashboard. 


(Click to read Dr. Thacker’s Return to Learn presentation shared at the May 17 Board Meeting).


Safety is our top priority, and we are committed to promoting an optimal, safe learning environment for our students and an optimal, safe work environment for our staff members. 


Dr. Jerry Thacker
Superintendent of Schools