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Urgent News

Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

April 2, 2020

Governor Announces Schools Closed for Remainder of School Year


Today, Governor Holcomb announced that Indiana schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year.  This is not the scenario for which we had hoped an planned.  Yet, as an accredited school, we submit to this authority. 

As we communicated before our break started this week, we will expand our Remote Learning on Monday, April 6, to 4 days per week.  Our schedule will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday for delivery of instruction.  The amount of time for work and instruction will be differentiated by the grade level.  We will provide more information on the calendar for the remainder of the year as our leadership reviews options.  

This will not be the end of the school year we had anticipated and we understand the challenge that this is for you and your children.  As citizens of two kingdoms, one of heaven and one in this world, we submit to authority for the common good.  Please know that you are in our prayers, and we are here for you. 

You will be hearing from your child's teacher regarding the schedule for next week and we will eagerly await the opportunity to worship together, yet socially distanced, throughout Holy Week and leading to Easter Sunday.  Christ is our Savior and our King.  The hope we place in His resurrection is not in vain.  God is good, all the time.  


Jacob Pennekamp


March 26, 2020

New Remote Learning Schedule After Spring Break


Remote learning will continue through May 1 by mandate of Governor Holcomb.  We are prayerful for a re-start day of regular school activities on Monday, May 4th.  That is our objective and hope.

However, to accommodate student learning as best possible during this time apart, our remote learning will move to a 4-day a week schedule.  ESM will provide remote learning instruction on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote office hours day for teachers and a day for students to catch up or receive individual help from teachers.  No new instruction will be delivered Wednesdays.  

Instruction will be differentiated for the grade of each student.  Our middle school students in grades 6-8 should expect a longer 4-day schedule with primary instruction occuring on Mondays and Thursdays.  The youngest students will receive instruction in shorter blocks targeted at essential skills primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays. In scheduling this way, we hope to accommodate for technology that may need to be shared among siblings in a household.  Your child’s teacher will be communicating with you directly with a more complete schedule and plan for your student. Please help your child develop good routines to be engaged all four days each week.

It is important that your child understands these remote learning days as school days.  The establishment of a regular routine and expectation of persistent work is not only healthy for the academic progress, but also the emotional health of your child.  Work assigned would be best completed during the suggested schedule times. They too need to feel accomplishment, purpose, and routine during this extended period of separation.  

The remote learning schedule that begins April 6th is as follows:

  • April 6, 7, 9, 10 
  • April 13, 14, 16, 17
  • April 20, 21, 23, 24
  • April 27, 28, 30, May 1
  • Return to School - May 4

Thank you for your overwhelming support.  Our teachers miss your children and the personal engagement we share with you.  We are here to serve you. Please check our website often for updates and current information.  

In Christ and Service to Families,

Jacob Pennekamp

March 23, 2020

3rd Q Report Cards, Remote Learning Continues, BIG Announcement!

Remote Learning 3/24 and 3/26

Remote learning continues this week with a Tuesday and Thursday pattern.  Please help your student connect and be engaged with lessons and assignments.  Teachers will continue the phone call check-ins this week. It is helpful if they can spend a few minutes in conversation with your child to confirm their progress on remote learning lessons.  Thank you for helping make that possible.

3rd Q Report Cards

ESM completed the third quarter on Thursday, March 12.  Third quarter report cards are now available. We have the ability to view/sign report cards in Sycamore.  We will NOT be mailing out paper report cards unless you make that request. Check out this 'Sycamore eSignature Report Card Tutorial' for step-by-step instructions.  

If you do not remember your password, please attempt to reset it from the Sycamore login page.  If you continue to have difficulty or have another question regarding report cards, please complete this 'Sycamore Help Form'.  As our office is currently working remotely, this is our best way to be reached for help. 

Big Announcement

Mrs. Latin has a BIG announcement for all students in grades K-8!!  CLICK HERE to view.  Once you have watched the video, you can access further instructions in the PDF document HERE

Spring Break

ESM will take the scheduled spring break next week, March 30 - April 3.  While the way we spend this break may be different than planned, we all need a break from the stress of lesson planning, completing lessons, and school expectations.  

New Remote Learning Schedule Coming Soon

Please also know that with the extension of remote learning through May 1, we will announce later this week a revised instructional schedule following spring break.  

Blessings to you,

Jacob Pennekamp


March 20, 2020

Remote Learning Extended until May 1st 

First, great job with the start of remote learning this week!  Most of your students were able to engage with the lessons easily and responded with some great work.  I know this isn’t easy and nobody prefers this situation. But, this is going to be our new reality for a while.  

Yesterday, Governor Holcomb’s executive order extended our remote learning until May 1.  Our initial plans anticipated, and hoped for, a return to school much sooner.  So, as we have before, we adjust course and adapt.  

Expect that before spring break begins on March 28th, ESM will announce a more frequent remote learning schedule following our break.  Thankfully, we’ll have another week of practice and improvement under our belts. This is new for us all.  

Also, stay tuned for an important Monday update.  There is an exciting announcement to share with you.  We haven’t been able to deliver much good news lately.  I think Monday we might make some of you happy.

As a school community, we want to care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of you and your family.  I encourage us all to consider unique ways to encourage one another, as well as provide loving service in our communities.  Consider how we can safely engage in service and encouragement in our community. We’ll be asking for feedback and ideas soon.  I think there is some great work that can be done.

Also, it was reported yesterday that two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Allen County.  Thankfully, no families connected with ESM or our churches have been impacted. But, that day may come.  We have posted on our website a link to a confidential form, shared only with ESM administration, that would allow a family to self-report a virus-related illness.  This could be helpful information for us as we provide support and care. The form will stay on our COVID Update page on the website in the upper right, Important Links box. 

I was drawn to Hebrews 10:24-25 this morning in my Bible reading.  It says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  

As humans, we’re designed for community and social interaction.  Relationships are an essential part of a church and school. We’re all craving normal.  I expect that desire to only grow. We may be required to participate in social distancing physically, but let us not give up communicating, encouraging, sharing the love of Christ, and caring for one another.  

An important way to stay connected is through worship.  Here are ways you can worship with us online.

St. Michael Lutheran Church 

Adult Bible Study 9:30am

Worship Sun 10:45am - Click on class/worship and you will be taken to the YouTube live stream channel.  

Emmanuel Lutheran Church

Worship Sat 5pm, Sun 8am & 10:30am - Click on the Vimeo icon in upper right. Weekend services will be available by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Midweek worship services will be posted by 11:30 a.m. on the remaining Wednesdays in Lent.

We’re in this together!  #ESM Family

Jacob Pennekamp


March 17, 2020

A Message from Principal Jacob Pennekamp


We're in the churn of daily changes regarding recommended response to COVID-19.  After yesterday's additional restrictions on gatherings, our school board set new resolutions that will impact our staff and building use.

Teachers are permitted to work remotely.  

Our instructional staff is professional, flexible, creative, and committed.  They will continue to reach out to you and your child personally each week and deliver remote learning following the schedule shared in the previous update.  However, they will not be required to keep on-campus office hours.  Teachers will provide you with multiple ways in which you can reach them during this time of separation.

Access to our school buildings will be limited after Thursday of this week. 

If your child still has a band instrument, text book, reading book, or personal item (including a snack hiding in a locker) you will only have a limited time to pick those items up.  We intend to limit access after Thursday at 4pm.  The schedule for times in which you can enter to pick up items is listed below.

Tuesday, March 17 - 8:30-4:00pm

Wednesday, March 18 - 8:30-6:00pm

Thursday, March 19 - 8:30-4:00pm

Remote Learning Page

On our website there will be multiple ways to reach our new remote learning page.  This page will provide navigation to your child's teacher and also host frequently updated devotions created by our pastoral and school staff.  We are also planning other video posts that we hope keep your child interested and connected with their teachers.  Thursday, March 19th, is our first day delivering instruction through remote learning.  You'll learn more when you speak with your child's teacher.

Proposed Remote Learning Schedule:

Tuesday, March 17th (Introduction and Initiation Only)

Thursday, March 19

Tuesday, March 24

Thursday, March 26

Tuesday, April 7

Thursday, April 9


In service of Christ and children,

Jacob Pennekamp

March 16, 2020

A Message from Principal Jacob Pennekamp

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: 

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; 

I’m not sure about you, but these were not the circumstances I imagined when we started the year with this theme verse back in August.  Yet, even in these crazy and uncertain times… we remain Joyfully His! Because of that unchanging fact, we can rest assured that God’s promises and Grace are sufficient, especially now. 

On Friday, we announced that beginning Monday, March 16th all classes, early childhood through 8th grade are suspended until Easter.  This was done with the strong recommendation of the Allen County Health Department and in unison with the other schools in the county.  

It is important that as we close to reduce and slow the rate of infection, that you at home assist by making wise choices that also limit the exposure of yourself and your children.  Practice frequent handwashing. Avoid high traffic areas. Get good sleep. Maintain a regular schedule.

While on-site classes have come to an end for a while, the learning will continue.  This week our teachers will be transitioning to providing home-based remote learning to our students.  It’s our objective to stay sharp and more importantly, to stay connected, so that when we do return to school, our minds and bodies are ready. 

Remote Learning will take on a different feel than what has been e-learning.  With a four-week separation, our teachers hope to provide content and experiences that offer opportunities to talk with one another by phone or video conference.  They will create lessons that extend learning and foster community. We want to deliver content two days a week, and follow that up with some encouragement and what we hope is a sense of normalcy.

The proposed dates that remote learning will be delivered are:

Tuesday, March 17th (Introduction and Initiation Only)

Thursday, March 19

Tuesday, March 24

Thursday, March 26

Tuesday, April 7

Thursday, April 9

This is new and unplanned for all of us.  We empathize with the sudden challenges your family will face.  Our hope is that this does not add to the stress or challenge. 

I also ask for patience as likely there will be adjustments as we go, but you will be hearing from your child’s teacher by Tuesday, March 17th with more details.  They will be making personal phone calls to each family and look forward to speaking with your child.

Lastly, while learning will go on-line for a while, there are some important conversations to have as a family in this transition.  It’s not our desire to radically increase screen time for any purpose. Getting outside, breathing fresh air, being active are all still priorities. 

Erin Clark has helped us put together a wonderful document that summarizes some things I encourage you to consider as you make these changes.  Keep routines, set bed-times, expect chores to be completed, and others. You’ll find a link to that document below this post. The document is titled "Encouragement & Healthy Habits - A Conversation to Help Guide Us".

Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks. For we are Joyfully each a Child of God. 

May the Lord Bless you, your children, and your family.


Jacob Pennekamp


March 13, 2020

ESM Transitions to Home-Based Learning

Dear ESM Community,

Because of the rising concern with COVID-19, and in support of regional, state, national, and international community efforts as well as a strong recommendation from the Allen County Board of Health to curb the spread of this virus, Emmanuel - St. Michael Lutheran School will shift away from face-to-face instruction and move to home-based remote learning from March 16 to April 10.  ESM will continue to hold Spring Break from March 30 to April 3. A detailed remote learning schedule and plan for implementation will be shared with students and parents by the end of the day Monday, March 16.

It is important that our students continue learning despite this break from physically being in class.  It is a critical distinction that we are not closing, but instead we are suspending in-class instruction and moving toward home-based remote learning.  For students in Kindergarten-8th grades, instruction and lessons will be delivered electronically two days a week. Families with early childhood students will also receive support and encouragement to extend learning opportunities at home. 

Our teachers are committed to making this instruction meaningful, relational, and engaging.  While remote learning does not replace all that would be accomplished in a normal school day, it will continue the learning and relationship process in this difficult time.  More information about remote learning will be provided by Monday, March 16. 

Please note that we do not currently have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 within our student body or staff as of today. We are in constant communication with the Allen County Department of Health to report to you as information becomes available. 

With this transition to home-based remote learning, all extracurricular and co-curricular activities will be canceled or postponed, including athletic events, athletic practices, musical practices, choir performances, etc.  This cancellation or postponement of events will be in effect as of today, March 13. As we plan out the rest of the year, we will communicate an updated schedule for affected events.

We understand the spiritual, emotional, and physical impact that this will have on our students. We will do everything in our power to make sure that this is an easy process while remaining a good community partner by helping to slow the progress of this virus. 

The current plan is to return to school on Monday, April 13.  Currently, there will not be any additional days added to the end of the school calendar as makeup days, given the opportunity to implement remote learning and Governor Holcomb’s declaration on March 12 regarding grace on the 180 school day mandate.  The current plan is to end school as scheduled on Thursday, May 28.

As more information becomes available, we will keep you updated through this page.  It is very important that each family has a current email address on record.  We recognize that there will be many questions this transition in learning will raise.  You can communicate those questions to our administrative team by clicking the ASK ME button on this page or by calling the school office at 260-422-6712.  

We ask you to be calm, prayerful and wise about your approach to this situation. This is an opportunity to demonstrate love and care for one another in different ways.

I met with the teachers all morning as we learned together and made plans for this circumstance.  This is not how any of them envisioned the next month of school. However, they are deeply committed to maintaining a supportive, nurturing and instructional role in your child’s life.  

God’s continued blessings on you and our community as we navigate this challenging situation.


In Christ,

Jacob Pennekamp


March 12, 2020

An Important Update from Mr. Pennekamp

The progression of response to the COVID-19 virus requires ESM to take further action to protect our students and staff.  Our priority is to have classrooms remain open for learning.  We understand the dramatic effect that a long-term school closure would have upon families in all facets of life. 

For this reason, ESM is suspending non-essential school activities beginning Friday, March 13.  We will postpone or cancel field trips and athletic events.  We are limiting the visitors and other events that will take place inour buildings.  We make these decisions out of respect for the essential activities at ESM.  Limiting our students’ and building’s exposure will help us maintain school as long as possible. 

You will be notified about specific events and activities that are cancelled.  In general, the things we can do within our own school and with our own students we hope will continue. 

You can help us.  Please practice good healthy habits at home like handwashing and frequent cleaning.  Limit your personal exposure to high traffic areas where germs are likely present.  Get plenty of rest and hydration.  We want to see your kids every day!

At this point, school will remain open.  If a confirmed positive case is developed within our school community, we will act at the recommendation of the health department and likely close for an indefinite period of time.  We would expect a closing to most likely be lengthy.   Our commitment would be to assist students in making progress in remote, home-based learning. 

Tonight, your child will likely be bringing home more of their instructional materials than normal.  Giving the long weekend away, I’ve encouraged teachers to share materials that might be most helpful in the event a change in our education is required.  We want them to have all that might be helpful going forward. 

We care deeply about your family and your children.  The best parts of my days are interacting with our students in classrooms and the hallways.  So much of what we do in our Lutheran schools is about relationship and our unwritten curriculum.  This is why face-to-face learning in open classrooms is so essential.  Yet, if circumstances change this for a time, ESM’s teachers and staff will be ready to provide the best assistance to you through distance learning.


In Christ,

Jacob Pennekamp


March 9, 2020

A Message from Mr. Pennekamp

Dear ESM family,

Recently, a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in thousands of people worldwide, primarily in China, Hong Kong, Iran and Italy at present.  A “novel coronavirus” is a strain that has not been previously found in humans.  This COVID-19 can lead to fever, cough and shortness of breath.

We want to assure you that we are monitoring this activity closely through proven and trustworthy sources:  our local Allen County Department of Health, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Much is being learned about the newly emerging virus.  Based on the current information that we have, health officials are recommending local communities and schools take the same steps to protect against coronavirus as we take to prevent transmission of everyday illness like the common cold or influenza. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an appropriate alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

COVID-19 is believed to be transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, much in the same way the flu and other respiratory viruses are spread.  Symptoms can be fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. At this point in time, persons considered at risk are those who have traveled to China recently or those in close contact with persons infected with novel coronavirus.

While any new type of illness can be scary, we can help protect our students, teachers and staff by using simple everyday actions that protect people from other types of respiratory viruses.  Our staff is working carefully to encourage these behaviors while at school and practice them when out in the community and at home as well.  These simple actions will help in the spread of all viruses, not just the novel coronavirus.

As COVID-19 continues to spread internationally, families may have questions about upcoming travel. The CDC has issued no official recommendations regarding domestic travel at this time. All travelers should practice general preventive measures. Regarding international travel, the CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to countries with a CDC level 3 travel health notice. Additionally, anyone returning from travel to countries with a CDC level 3 travel health notice will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. Additional information, as well as a list of countries with health advisories, is available at

Families considering international travel should keep in mind that this situation is rapidly evolving. International travel to areas where COVID-19 is spreading may result in delays or possibly quarantine if travel recommendations change. If you do travel internationally, you will be notified you if any action needs to be taken upon your return to the United States and to school.

More information about COVID-19 is available at or

Above all, to overcome fear, we pray for God’s protection and mercy upon this entire situation. Thank you for your continued support as we work together as a school community to keep our families safe.


In Christ,

Jacob Pennekamp


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 Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention