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Health officials OK reopening schools earlier, but Indianapolis districts hesitate

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In declining to reopen schools sooner than planned, Indianapolis Public Schools officials said they will reevaluate after looking at circumstances and data after the winter break. 
Alan Petersime/Chalkbeat

Indianapolis schools can reopen Jan. 4, two weeks earlier than planned, local health officials announced Thursday.

But the city’s central district, Indianapolis Public Schools, said it didn’t expect to move up its schedule for returning to buildings, and still plans for campuses to open Jan. 19. Learning will remain virtual until then.

Health officials shifted their advice based on a change in guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently shortened quarantine periods for those exposed to the coronavirus. Indianapolis health officials also said they don’t believe schools are significantly contributing to the spread of the virus.

Indianapolis closed campuses Nov. 30 because of rising COVID case counts among students.

Marion County’s current seven-day average positivity rate is over 14%, Marion County Public Health Director Virginia Caine reported.

In declining to reopen schools sooner than planned, Indianapolis Public Schools officials said they will reevaluate after looking at circumstances and data after the winter break.

Warren Township schools also told families Thursday that it would stick to its plan to remain in virtual learning through at least Jan. 15. Officials said they are basing their decision on district-level COVID data and staffing challenges.

When asked about a group of parents petitioning to reopen schools, Mayor Joe Hogsett said Thursday that city and county officials are making decisions based on data and science.

In total, Indiana schools have reported 20,543 COVID-19 cases among students, teachers, and staff so far this year, according to state data.

Caine urged families to avoid contact with people outside their households, refrain from traveling, and, if exposed, to quarantine before venturing out.

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