COVID-19 school turmoil, teacher pay face Indiana lawmakers

The turmoil that Indiana schools have faced from the coronavirus pandemic will be a top concern of state legislators during their upcoming session, the leader of the Indiana House said Monday.

Posted: Nov 16, 2020 5:31 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The turmoil that Indiana schools have faced from the coronavirus pandemic will be a top concern of state legislators during their upcoming session, the leader of the Indiana House said Monday.

Indiana lawmakers will take the first formal steps toward their 2021 session when they gather at the Statehouse on Tuesday for the Legislature’s organizational meetings.

It will also be the first meeting of the House and Senate since the coronavirus pandemic was first sweeping across the country in March.

Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said he was worried about children possibly having more than a year of their education disrupted by the pandemic.

Schools across the state were closed for the final months of last school year out of coronavirus concerns.

Indiana schools largely resumed in-person classes this fall, but many have shifted to more virtual classes in recent weeks amid sharp increases in COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and confirmed new infections.

A focus of state officials needs to be on how to help students catch up, Huston said during an online program with other legislative leaders sponsored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

“This wasn’t the schools’ fault, the teachers’ fault, the parents’ fault, the kids’ fault. This was just a unique time,” Huston said. “We’re going to have to figure out how we walk hand in hand to help support, particularly low-income students who, I think, have felt disproportionately the challenge of this pandemic.”

Tests have confirmed COVID-19 infections among more than 8,200 students and 1,600 teachers across Indiana since the start of the current school year, according to a weekly state health department report updated Monday.

Indiana’s coronavirus hospitalizations are up about 250% since late September.

When the new legislative session starts in January, lawmakers will face drafting a new two-year state budget with uncertainties about state tax collections during the national recession and whether Congress will eventually approve additional financial assistance for states.

State officials in September approved a method to maintain full funding for school districts regardless of whether they were offering instruction virtually or in the classroom during this fall semester.

Legislators will likely have to take up that issue because current state law caps per-pupil funding for students who take at least half their classes virtually at 85% of full in-person student funding.

During the Legislature’s Organization Day last year, thousands of teachers flooded the Statehouse to demand increased teacher pay.

The Republican-dominated Legislature didn’t boost education funding during its 2020 session and a teacher pay commission appointed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2019 hasn’t yet released its recommendations.

The state’s largest teachers union argued Monday that lawmakers need to take action regarding Indiana’s lagging teacher pay and increased stress on educators during the pandemic.

If not addressed, teacher resignations and retirements “will only worsen,” as will the ongoing teacher shortage, Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said.

“We are advocating for lawmakers to keep their promises to fully and equitably fund our public schools, to pay our teachers as professionals and not to cut K-12 education funding in the coming session,” Gambill said. “We must ensure that students do not pay the price in this pandemic, nor can we afford to fall further behind on addressing teacher pay.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108902

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287491467
Cuyahoga1158082211
Hamilton814091250
Montgomery525571043
Summit484351001
Lucas43359820
Butler39018606
Stark33338929
Lorain25675505
Warren24595303
Mahoning22376603
Lake21211388
Clermont20124253
Delaware18856136
Licking16663222
Fairfield16576204
Trumbull16551482
Medina15612271
Greene15284248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11914239
Richland11607211
Miami10849225
Wayne9146223
Columbiana9034230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8650250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7161179
Hancock6999132
Ross6945161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584649
Lawrence5732102
Jefferson5679158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5320109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4572112
Madison444366
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4040110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3856105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359865
Williams348278
Champaign344859
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275365
Henry273467
Holmes2702101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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