Indiana school districts grapple with reopening decisions

Last week, Indiana recorded back-to-back highs in single-day increases in coronavirus cases — the most since early May.

Posted: Jul 13, 2020 5:34 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — As Indiana schools rush to release reopening plans for the upcoming academic year, one Indianapolis district has said it will only hold classes online, raising questions as to whether others will follow suit to protect students and staff from the coronavirus.

Washington Township, which is among the state’s largest school districts with about 11,000 students last school year, announced Monday it won’t reopen schools this fall.

After approving plans last week to reopen with a brick-and-mortar option, the school board voted again Monday morning, this time moving all classes online.

“While several of the most significant numeric and statistical measures relating to the coronavirus continue to rise, and while we understand our continuing responsibility to address students’ educational, social and emotional needs, it is the Board’s judgment that the best course of action in the near term is not to have students return to the classroom while coronavirus indicators increase,” the school board said in a statement.

The district’s concerns are not unfounded.

Last week, Indiana recorded back-to-back highs in single-day increases in coronavirus cases — the most since early May.

The Indiana State Health Department announced that over 52,000 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with the virus, with more than 2,700 Hoosiers dead.

Marion County, which includes Washington Township, has reported more than 12,000 confirmed cases and nearly 700 deaths.

The district, which serves more than 11,000 students on Indianapolis’ north side, will reopen beginning July 30, according to the school board.

The district said it will reassess whether students can return to the classroom at every upcoming board meeting — it has seven scheduled the fall semester.

But until the school board determines otherwise, classes will remain online.

The announcement comes on the heels of threats by President Donald Trump to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, too, said last week that anything less than a full reopening would be a failure for students and taxpayers.

“It’s clear that our nation’s schools must fully reopen and fully operate this school year,” DeVos said during a White House’s round-table July 7. “Anything short of that robs students, not to mention taxpayers, of their future.”

Last month, the Indiana Department of Education released recommendations for schools to use while developing reopening plans.

The guidelines give local leaders the freedom to determine how their schools will operate during the pandemic, including whether classes will be offered in-person, online, or a mix of both.

The Washington Township school board said it found itself in a “difficult position” due to the “limited specific guidance” from the state.

All other public school districts in Indianapolis are offering both in-person and online options. None others, so far, have announced changes to in-person reopening.

Other school leaders around the state are also beginning to announce their reentry plans, though uncertainty remains whether those plans will include options for students to enter physical classrooms.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in southern Indiana expects students to return to traditional learning environments Aug. 5. Northern Indiana school districts, including in South Bend and Mishawaka, plan to hold classes in school buildings beginning Aug. 12.

And while masks will be required for students and teachers, in-person classes for Indianapolis Public Schools are slated start on Aug. 3.

Like dozens of others, Fort Wayne Community Schools — the largest public school district in the state — is still finalizing whether to bring students back with e-learning or to return to a traditional classroom setting.

Fluctuating numbers of new coronavirus cases, school leaders say, could alter or delay current and developing reentry plans.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68433

Reported Deaths: 2980
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion14863719
Lake7101271
Elkhart459777
Allen3635158
St. Joseph315479
Hamilton2513104
Cass17519
Hendricks1750105
Vanderburgh172612
Johnson1652118
Porter119539
Tippecanoe110311
Clark108145
Madison84765
LaPorte83829
Kosciusko81912
Howard81065
Bartholomew74347
Marshall74222
Floyd69444
Monroe68630
Delaware63852
Noble63728
Boone63546
Dubois62612
Hancock62337
Jackson5524
LaGrange54210
Warrick51630
Shelby51126
Grant49629
Vigo47410
Dearborn46528
Morgan42532
Henry36118
Clinton3573
White34710
Montgomery34321
Lawrence32827
Wayne3179
Decatur31432
Harrison29422
Miami2582
Scott25010
Daviess24619
Greene23934
Franklin22410
DeKalb2224
Putnam2228
Jennings21012
Jasper2082
Gibson2004
Steuben2003
Ripley1887
Perry17212
Starke1657
Orange16424
Wabash1613
Posey1580
Fayette1557
Jefferson1492
Whitley1486
Fulton1462
Carroll1452
Wells1342
Knox1310
Huntington1183
Washington1161
Spencer1143
Newton11010
Tipton1075
Randolph1034
Clay975
Jay820
Adams812
Rush794
Owen781
Sullivan761
Pulaski721
Brown701
Fountain632
Benton600
Blackford532
Ohio514
Pike460
Parke451
Switzerland430
Crawford420
Martin420
Vermillion380
Union320
Warren191
Unassigned0200

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93963

Reported Deaths: 3539
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17254514
Cuyahoga12753477
Hamilton9160248
Lucas4944318
Montgomery405778
Summit3294217
Marion288444
Butler271459
Mahoning2411253
Pickaway235742
Stark1690132
Lorain163476
Warren163435
Columbiana158260
Trumbull1433103
Fairfield125425
Delaware120618
Licking112543
Clark108613
Lake104336
Wood92458
Clermont85511
Medina83533
Miami76937
Tuscarawas74713
Portage71760
Allen65442
Greene62611
Belmont58926
Richland54012
Ashtabula53945
Mercer53513
Geauga53143
Erie52427
Wayne49958
Ross4014
Huron3764
Ottawa35925
Athens3451
Madison33310
Sandusky33217
Holmes3226
Darke32127
Hancock3202
Auglaize2225
Lawrence2200
Union2161
Jefferson2063
Washington19722
Putnam19217
Scioto1881
Coshocton1866
Muskingum1811
Knox1692
Crawford1685
Preble1662
Seneca1613
Shelby1604
Morrow1582
Hardin15012
Clinton1486
Fulton1401
Champaign1381
Ashland1333
Highland1321
Defiance1294
Williams1243
Logan1231
Wyandot1207
Brown1121
Guernsey1117
Hocking1119
Carroll1085
Henry1061
Perry1062
Fayette970
Monroe9118
Van Wert691
Jackson670
Pike660
Paulding610
Gallia581
Adams532
Vinton302
Meigs250
Harrison201
Morgan200
Noble170
Unassigned00
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