School News

Update Center

November 23, 2020


Consistent with our previously shared protocols, ESM will only communicate directly with those who have been considered a close contact to a school exposure.  A close contact is defined as any individual within 6 feet of a laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more.  This contact extends to 48hrs prior to the first symptoms being demonstrated. 

Given Allen County’s rate of spread it is likely that ESM will have many who will be impacted by a quarantine or isolation in the coming winter months.  As expected, we will experience student absences due to requirements for quarantine and isolation.  We ask that you communicate any potential exposures to the school and that you assist and comply with the protocols we require for each case. 

As of the morning of 11/23/20, ESM has seen a slight increase in the number of students and staff that are excluded from school due to a quarantine over the previous week, yet the number of individual cases that require an isolation remains very small.  Again, know that any person considered a close contact will receive direct communication from the school as soon as we are made aware. 

A quick reminder of terms:  

  • Isolation is the term used for the status of a person with COVID-19 symptoms, or a positive test result.  Isolation would indicate that a person has either been ill with, or tested positive for COVID-19, and presents exposure risks for others.  This period is a 10 day exclusion from the day of onset of illness.
  • Quarantine is the term used for the status of anyone who is considered a close contact by proximity and length of time.  Typically, a close contact is someone who is within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes cumulative throughout the day (either masked OR unmasked).  A person required to be in quarantine does not create restrictions for others, meaning other members of a household who do not have direct exposure may continue attending school and work.  While in quarantine one should self-monitor and report any symptoms.  This period is a 14 day exclusion from the date of last contact.

Thank you for your vigilance in monitoring your child’s health.  Taking care of everyone in our church and school community is a priority.  You and your family continue to be in our prayers.

In Christ,

Jacob Pennekamp

November 18, 2020


As our county moves to a new level of community spread and additional restrictions are placed upon public gatherings and spaces, there are questions about the impact upon schools.  First, our local health department and other health leaders continue to applaud the work of schools operating in-person.  Dr. Sutter of the ACDH said yesterday that being “in school is the safest place for kids” and that they are “not seeing spread at school like it is in the community at large.”  ESM has an approved plan for operation and thankful for our relative success. 

ESM will continue to operate in-person as long as our local immediate situation reasonably and safely allows.  There are factors that may cause us to pause and move to remote, home-based learning for classrooms or a campus for a short period of time.  But, our commitment remains to provide in-person instruction as it is feasible to do so.

Remaining open safely requires us to continue to be vigilant to our safety plan and additional precautions may be put into place.  We do this for the safety of all our ESM community.  Students who are considered close contacts and high risk of exposure, being within six feet for more than 15 minutes, will be required to quarantine.  We must continue to limit visitors and may be required to limit some large group activities.  And, every person must self monitor before arriving at school.  

As I have shared before, I strongly believe in-person instruction is best for meeting our school’s mission of education for life and faith for eternity. Maintaining open buildings and in-person instruction is not easy or convenient. It requires great sacrifice for the sake of all. Please continue to support our efforts and understand the challenges we face.  

I thank you for your continued partnership.

Jacob Pennekamp


November 17, 2020


CLICK HERE for the new protocol for basketball games.  Our goal as a league is to keep kids playing as much as possible.  These are two of the biggest changes:  

- Only 1 fan per athlete will be allowed for visiting games.  (2 fans per athlete are still allowed for a home game)

- No children will be allowed to attend games.  

If you have any questions please contact Mr. Behl or your coach. 

November 13, 2020


We praise and thank God that our school has remained REMARKABLY healthy during this time of anxiety and concern.  It is our strongest desire to maintain in-person instruction as long as it is safe and reasonable to operate this way.  Any future updates to our protocols or requirements will be communicated via email and posted on our website at  

Based on recent announcements and news, there is some confusion and on-going discussion about potential changes for schools.  The Governors newest executive orders appear to allow schools the opportunity to maintain in-person instruction as they maintain their current safety plans.  At this time, we intend to continue our instructional plans and our extracurricular activities, such as basketball, with all the safety restrictions we’ve already communicated. 

You may have heard other local and statewide districts communicate plans to move to remote learning for secondary schools, or even all levels.  Again, at this time we do not have plans to end in-person instruction unless a specific health issue at ESM prevents us from continuing to do so safely and reasonably. 

Out of an abundance of caution we continue to ask that you daily self-screen your family for changes in health.  We are also going back to the procedures that we had in place at the start of the school year in regards to illnesses.  Parents are asked to take their children to their healthcare provider for each symptom that overlaps the known COVID-19 symptoms.  We were fortunately able to loosen this process back in September, when the spread in our community was less widespread, but we think that revisiting this procedure is wise to do again at this time. 

Due to the dramatic increase of positive cases in our local community we know that we may be required to adjust our plans, requirements, and protocols.  We will be ready to support learning in new ways if necessary.  However, we hope that anything we do will only be temporary and result in as short a separation from in-person as possible. 

I celebrate that we are 65 days into this school year.  I celebrate the academic and personal growth that is occurring in every child.  I celebrate that over the past two school days our students have packed about 14,000 meals with Project 216 and served people in our community and around the world.  It is a joy to work together and I believe God rejoices in the faith community that ESM forms. 

To God be the Glory!

Jacob Pennekamp


August 26, 2020



New guidance from the Indiana Department of Health was just released yesterday that will change current guidance when a student or faculty/staff member must be excluded from school and when they can return.  Attached are two important documents that will provide specific updated information.

New Symptom Screening Guidelines – the CDC and ISDH have updated the symptoms you are checking, to rule out some of the more common/mild symptoms that are often attributed to many other things outside of COVID-19.  No longer is a runny nose with clear discharge or mild headache considered a COVID-19 symptom. Parents and schools are now asked to focus on the following symptoms:

  • Temperature of 100.4 degree F or higher
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with fever
  • Loss of taste or smell

Updated guidance on when a person who has tested NEGATIVE can return to school: anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 who had a negative test and is NOT a close contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19 may return to school under the following guidelines:

  • Must be 24 hours fever free without the use of medications
  • Other symptoms resolved
  • No doctor’s note required
  • REMINDER THOUGH – if this person is a close contact to a confirmed case they MUST complete the 14-day quarantine even if they test negative

You can always access the most up to date documents and guidance on our website at

Those who previously were excluded with symptoms and now may return to school due to these changes will be contacted directly by our school nurse, Mrs. Lahey. 

Thank you for your continued support for our comeback plan.  We love having your children in school and we are working hard with you to make this as safe an environment as possible.  Please discard the previous guidelines you may have and use the new guidelines HERE and Return to School Guidance (8-25-20) as you prepare for each school day.

In Christ,

Jacob Pennekamp

August 5, 2020

ESM Comeback Plan FAQ | Face Masks and Social Distancing

Thank you families for coming to ESM Registration Days!  We look forward to the year ahead and partnering with you as we get ready to start school on Wed, Aug. 12th.  You've had great questions about the Comeback Plan.  Check out this quick video where Mr. Pennekamp visits a classroom and gives us a peek at what masks and social distance look like for our ESM school family. 


July 22, 2020

ESM Comeback Plan Announcement

Dear parents, students, and friends of Emmanuel – St. Michael, 

These truly are remarkable times.  As health officials and all school districts are providing information on plans and requirements, I appreciate your patience and your partnership.  We are in this together, and that is more than just a time appropriate slogan.  As fellow parents, members of the body of Christ, and a school community… together is not only the best option, it’s how we are designed to live out our mission. 

Our school leadership, teachers, administrators, and board members have discussed this plan in various forms even as we were ending the previous school year.  The guidance and response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and the plans for our start to the school year have been developed in good faith, based on what we know at this time.  On a daily basis, we will monitor the situation in partnership with our local health department, the Indiana State Department of Health, and guidance from the CDC and the State of Indiana.  Parts of this plan may change with new information.  What will not change is the desire and commitment of ESM to safely partner with parents to educate students for life and nurture faith for eternity.

Our plan is to open with in-person instruction for students beginning August 12th for K-8 and August 17th for preschool as was originally scheduled. 

We did not arrive at this decision lightly.  After discussing many options, it was determined that ESM could create a plan that delivers in-person instruction within the guidance currently provided by health officials.  And, it was also determined that we do not have the resources to provide a fully online, remote learning option to parents simultaneously to in-person instruction.  If the need arrives for ESM to transition to online remote learning for a small or large group of students, we will be ready.  However, we are not able to offer this as an alternate and individual choice for parents.

So, the full comeback plan outlines many details which I encourage you to read fully. At the same time, I understand that it will lead to many additional questions.  Over the next few weeks leading up to the start of school we will continue to update a FAQ document and provide additional communications with guidance on specific areas of the plan. 

In regard to face masks, at this time we will require that everyone entering the school wear a reusable face mask.  Specific guidance will be coming, but the simple cloth, over the ear masks are sufficient.  We only ask that they fit well, are easy for students to put on, and do not have any design or messaging that conflicts with our Christian message or values. 

Social distancing, frequently cleaning and disinfecting, changes to procedures, the purchase of additional student technology, and new health protocols and practices are all important to the success of our plan.  You can read about those fully in the attached document.

In the true spirit of partnership, it is critical that parents be attentive to the daily health of their children.  Each family will be required to self-screen for both symptoms and history of exposure PRIOR to arrival at school each day.  No one should enter the building and potentially expose other students and staff while symptomatic or with a known exposure history. 

As a parent myself, I understand the worry and concern you may have.  This plan may not meet your family’s specific needs.  If you have questions or concerns, please voice them to me, our assistant principal, Keri Latin, or our Director of Early Childhood, Jennifer Ackmann.  There is a link on the update page through which you can submit a question and our emails are available through the “About” tab on the website.  If in the end, a return to in-person instruction is not your choice for your child, please communicate with us as soon as possible and we will help you with any transition you need to make.

There are some important changes to our registration and typical back to school process. 

Registration for all grade levels will take place at the Getz Road Campus in the gymnasium on Monday, August 3rd and Tuesday, August 4th. To prevent overcrowding, please CLICK HERE to sign up for a day and time block. Enter the building through the school entrance (door 11) and follow the signs.  You must have a mask on to enter the building and we will be practicing social distancing during this process. If you cannot attend registration on one of these days, an appointment must be made in advance of the first day of school.  Students who are not registered will be unable to attend school until the registration process is completed.  You may make an appointment by calling the school office at 260.422.6712.  Registration packets will be mailed at the end of this week and received the week of July 27th.

Teacher Meet & Greet

We appreciate your patience as we know you are excited to learn your child's class placement.  You can expect to hear directly from your child's teacher next week and their plans for a classroom meet and greet which will replace the typical back to school night and home visits.  While the larger events will not be possible for building community in our school, building a healthy relationship between the classroom and home is still vital to our mission and ministry. 

1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that we are the body of Christ.  We share in sufferings and celebrations.  We honor each other, love, and support one another.  We are all unique, but we are connected as a family, the children of God.  We are in this together!

While school may look different for a while, we look forward to engaging with you as we have in the past, providing education for life and faith for eternity.

May the Lord bless you as we complete our summer break.


In Christ,

Jacob Pennekamp, Principal

Concern or question?

Student and staff safety is our top priority. If you have a question, concern or comment about any health or safety issue, please let us know by creating a message to school administration here.

Ask here

Additional resources

Provided by the Indiana State Department of Health & the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software.