Indiana schools to have flexibility when reopening

Students in Indiana will return to school in the coming months, but what that looks like will vary widely across the state.

Posted: Jun 10, 2020 9:51 AM

Indianapolis (AP) — Students in Indiana will return to school in the coming months, but what that looks like will vary widely across the state.

Following the Indiana Department of Education’s release of school reentry guidelines last week, State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick addressed teachers and administrators during a webinar Tuesday, emphasizing the freedom local leaders have to determine how their schools will operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

With many schools starting the academic year by early August, some are expecting to hold all or most classes online, McCormick said. Others — especially in rural areas — plan to return to the “brick and mortar” setting as soon as possible. Numerous “hybrid schedules” are also taking shape, allowing students to alternate days spent learning in the classroom and remotely.

“We’re all trying to get schools back in,” McCormick said. “We just have to remember that that’s going to look different across counties and across our state.”

The reentry plan provided by the state is broad and non-mandatory, meaning it will be up to school districts to decide whether students and faculty would have to undergo health screenings, wear masks and adhere to social distancing best practices.

Some schools could choose to require masks at all times, while others might elect to only require them for certain activities or not at all, McCormick said. To assist, the governor’s office is planning on purchasing 2 million masks for distribution by the state’s education department. It’s not a long-term fix, but rather a way to help out schools that will require them to be worn, she said.

Questions were raised during the webinar about how districts should proceed when there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their school populations. According to the state recommendations, schools should close for two to five days so that facilities could be cleaned, further testing could be conducted and contract tracing efforts could be made. The in-and-out nature could mean schools holding in-person classes will have to identify “unique” solutions to minimize disruptions.

“The six feet apart, the time that might be needed for schools to be cleaned, it’s going to be tough,” McCormick said. “The (state) guidance left enough room and flexibility in it, though, for smart solutions to these things.”

Uncertainty also remains about waivers that schools were granted to reimburse them for providing needy students with grab-and-go meals, which are set to expire Aug. 30. McCormick said answers about those should come soon.

The “lack of continuity” stems from variations in the prevalence and spread of coronavirus in different communities, McCormick said, adding that there will be no requirements or approvals necessary for schools’ reentry plans. The onus is instead on individual school boards and local health departments to develop specific policies for their districts.

The state will continue to update its school reentry guidance in response to pandemic changes. The first change, noted during the webinar, eliminated a previous recommendation for physical barriers between drivers and students on school buses due to safety concerns. Additional guidance for performing arts activities such as marching band and choir are also expected in the near future.

“A lot of things are playing into this,” McCormick said. “It may not look exactly how we want it to look, but given the situation with COVID, you’re going to have to have some flexibility.”

___

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.”

West Lafayette
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 94°
Kokomo
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 89°
Rensselaer
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 85°
Fowler
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 85°
Williamsport
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Crawfordsville
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Frankfort
Overcast
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 91°
Delphi
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Monticello
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Logansport
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events