The Wayne Township School Board voted Monday to delay the start of school until Aug. 12 to allow the district more time to prepare.
The Indianapolis district, which enrolls about 17,000 students, will give families the option to enroll children full time in person or to sign up for virtual education. Students were originally scheduled to return July 29.
“Moving the date back will help us ensure that we have the things we need in place regarding both technology and PPE to give our students the best start possible to the school year,” district spokeswoman Mary Lang wrote in an email.
The decision came hours after Washington Township became the first school system in Indianapolis to decide only to offer virtual instruction indefinitely.
Both decisions point to growing anxiety in Marion County that school districts are not prepared to safely bring students back to classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic. Indianapolis districts typically begin school in late July or early August.
Most of the city’s districts, including Indianapolis Public Schools, are expected to return to school on schedule with the option to enroll full time in person.
Marion County Public Health Department Director Virginia Caine said Monday that it is safe for Indianapolis schools to reopen, based on current coronavirus data.
During a town hall livestreamed by IPS Monday night, Caine pointed to declines in the number of people testing positive for the virus and in the number dying. Indianapolis currently has a positivity rate of about 7%, Caine said.
If Marion County starts to see “our numbers go in the wrong direction, that’s something that we would quickly, very rapidly be able to inform our schools in order to make it safe for our children,” Caine assured town hall viewers.
Chalkbeat is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.