Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday that all of Marion County’s public school districts and all charter schools sponsored by the Mayor’s Office will close their doors starting Friday.
Combined with already-planned spring breaks, the schools will remain closed through April 5.
“This decision is made in conversation with all public schools within Marion County, who agree it’s time to take this step out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, the director of the Marion County Health Department.
School districts in Hamilton County made similar announcements late Thursday, with the dates of the closings dependent on the district. School officials said the decision was based on Gov. Eric Holcomb’s directive banning events, meetings or other gatherings of more than 250 people.
“We recognize how challenging this situation is for some of our families, students and staff,” said an announcement from Hamilton Southeastern Schools. “This decision was made after consultation with Hamilton County health officials and other Hamilton County schools.”
Hogsett said city and county officials will work with service providers and school districts to help ensure that meals continue to be available to students throughout this school closure period.
The mayor also repeated Holcomb’s directive against non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people. He said the restriction will be in effect for 30 days, “although the situation will continue to be monitored daily.”
In a statement, the mayor acknowledged that the restrictions will have serious impacts on “commerce, social events and functions planned long in advance or held every year.”
“To those who argue these policies will be disruptive, my answer is simple: They better be,” he said. “This virus and the threat it poses to our city, state and country is massive. Left unchecked, it has the potential to wreak untold damage on our families and the very social safety net that protects our most vulnerable residents.”
Hogsett also announced the following changes:
- After conversations with the Marion County courts, Hogsett directed IMPD to issue summonses in lieu of outright arrests for non-violent misdemeanors. Officers will be allowed to make an arrest if they believe it is the only appropriate avenue to protect public safety.
- City-County government will begin implementing operational changes designed to protect employees and the public while maintaining basic service. The changes include a ban on non-essential travel by city employees, the transition to work-from-home for employees able to take advantage of city technology, and a push for residents to use online services when possible.
- The Parks Department has suspended all senior programming and is evaluating other parks programming.
- The City-County Council will be developing new tools for online engagement to ensure continued access and engagement for public meetings.