Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is ordering schools not to reopen classrooms until after Aug. 5, a rare intervention as coronavirus infection rates are rising in Indianapolis and across Indiana.
Several of Marion County’s 11 districts have decided in recent days to delay reopening or begin the school year online only. But five school districts were planning to reopen before Aug. 5, Hogsett said. Some charter and private schools also will be forced to push back their classroom reopenings.
The city announced several other restrictions outside of schools, such as limits on restaurant capacity and hours. In recent weeks, other states, such as Florida and Texas, have seen surges in infection rates, Hogsett said.
“Unlike those places, however, we still have an opportunity to stop this rising rate of infection and hopefully preserve many of the aspects of our daily lives that have returned in recent weeks,” he said.
City officials plan to offer more guidance on school reopening next week. Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Virginia Caine plan to meet with Indianapolis superintendents to discuss whether and how K-12 schools may reopen. The city is also working to prepare for COVID-19 testing once schools reopen to minimize delays in results, officials said.
Caine said the change to school reopening plans responds to changing conditions. In Marion County’s most recent seven-day average, 10% of people tested for COVID-19 had the virus, according to Caine. In June, the positivity rate had dropped to 4.2%, but after July 4, it began rising again.
The safety of reopening schools hinges on details such as “the structure of the school, the number of students in the building, the number of students in a classroom,” Caine said.
The city will also review school reopening plans and look at the impact of student sports, Caine said.