County health department closing schools to in-person instruction

(IBJ file photo)

Schools in Marion County will be required to return to virtual instruction beginning Nov. 30, Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the county’s public health department, announced Thursday.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates surge, evens among high school and middle school age groups.

School boards across the state are meeting to decide how to handle instruction as the state’s COVID-19 related numbers continue to climb.

On Wednesday night, the Hamilton Southeastern School Board voted to move to virtual instruction for grades 7 though 12, while grades 5 and 6 move to a hybrid model in which students attend school in person 50% of the time and virtually the other 50%. That begins Monday and runs through winter break.

In Marion County, Caine encouraged schools that can go virtual sooner to do so. School will remain virtual through at least Jan. 15, unless numbers improve drastically.

Under the order, extra-curricular activities and sporting events can only include participants, their parents or guardians and support personnel.

The school restrictions accompany other public health restrictions also announced on Thursday, which limit capacity for hospitality, entertainment and tourism venues.

“These are really critical concerns about what’s happening with our positivity rate at our schools,” Caine said. “And let me say, we did a fantastic job from mid-August up to this point. But these last two weeks, we’ve seen a substantial increase. And we can have a good control in our schools … but you can only do it when your community level spread is not so significant.”

As of last week, the seven-day positivity rate for all tests in Marion County was 9.3%. It’s now over 10%, which Caine had previously warned would require new restrictions.

Caine said transmission within schools remains low, but more and more school-age students are becoming affected outside of school. That, coupled with the community spread, is concerning enough to close school buildings.

Marion County contains the state’s largest district, Indianapolis Public Schools, and many other large districts, Washington Township, Lawrence Township, Franklin Township, Perry Township, Pike Township, Speedway and Wayne Township.

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16 thoughts on “County health department closing schools to in-person instruction

    1. Enough with the politics… A large number of people didn’t/don’t/won’t wear a mask. Its not about politics, its about our community. Sad

    1. Trump and his supporters sure haven’t helped the situation. Deny, deny, deny any action or thought that might help another person out….as long as your side is winning, right?
      Seems like all you can do is whine and complain about liberal boogeymen instead of actually supporting your community, country, and fellow human beings.
      Funny thing is, if Trump would’ve took COVID seriously, listened to scientists and actually LEAD the country during the pandemic, he would have won in a landslide! He was too busy worrying the outbreak would make him look bad, though. Ironic!

  1. Governor Holcomb needs to stand up, be a man, and put a lid on Hogsett’s schoolroom ban. It’s the Indiana Department of Education, not the Indianapolis Department of Education. Let each individual school make the decision that works according to the situation that they are experiencing. Boss Hog, butt out!!

    1. This is Dr. Caine’s order, not the mayor’s. The Marion County Public Health Department is a separate body politic from the City.

    2. You’re telling me the Governor can’t supersede a mayor when it comes to the education that is state funded? I think he can, he’s just too weak kneed to do it. He is Governor of the State, and the State runs education. Not Mayor Joke Hogsett and his lame administration. The problem is that these politicians are isolated from reality. I wonder how their children are doing in school? Oh wait, they don’t have any in K-12 education. Lame, they will continue to live their posh lifestyles in their mansions completely isolated from the average law abiding, tax paying resident. Don’t forget, Holcomb called protesters who wanted to simply go back to work an “almost perfect Petri dish”, but lauded the non-masked social justice protesters who were violating a county wide curfew as having a noble cause. Holcomb and Hogsett are truly shameful public servants. Although, clearly, in their eyes, they are lords.

    3. Keith, the only thing shameful is the whiny right wingers and trumplicans who can’t get over themselves. You have no regard for others and it shows.
      Please keep whining and complaining, it really helps the situation! Nothing’s fair for the poor wittle conservatives!

  2. Needs to be looked at school by school. My kids school has been doing a great job with minimal cases reported. This is being driven by a blanket “metric” that is forcing all back to zero. What is the point in doing a good job at keeping the kids safe and in school if you are then held captive to an area/school in Indy that isn’t doing their job properly?

  3. How about you quarantine the people that are sick? Do more pre-testing (temperatures) and then quick tests if suspect. You don’t treat everyone like they are sick if only some get sick. All the countries that locked down in Europe have had, in the end no better luck than us. Sweden which only had moderate lock downs and then finally opened has done MUCH better. Why are we not hearing from Africa and India and other EXTREMELY densely populated areas having HUGE death tolls? I haven’t see any numbers from there and I am sure if they were we would be seeing them. A lock down is like a death sentence, every bit as much as the virus itself.

    1. We are hearing quite a bit about India, but many countries in sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa notwithstanding) are indeed having extremely low caseloads. Then again, this includes some of the poorest countries in the world, and they lack a medical infrastructure to initiate widespread COVID testing. Same reason that, in the Western Hemisphere, a middle income country like Dominican Republic has had huge reports of cases, while impoverished Haiti has shown very little. Dominican Republic, India, South Africa all have reasonably good health care (at least for the middle income and better, and all of these countries have a reasonably decent sized middle class), but the poorest countries of Africa and Asia lack even the most fundamental resources to test all but a select few.

    2. Because people who aren’t sick can still spread it. We need to manage the spread which obviously isn’t happening. A lockdown isn’t even close to what the full blown virus will do to our country, we just didn’t see it because we actually managed to contain it in spring by….wait for it….locking down.
      We can have lockdown which will cause some ecnomic hardship and a managed virus….or we can have the virus AND still have the economic hardship due to uncontrolled outbreak and its effects on hospitals that will spill over to the rest of society. Either way you cut it, you still get economic pain. It sucks, it’s not an easy situation and I’m sick of masks and lockdowns too….but we need to start working together on this instead of whining all the time.

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