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Education Affected By Corona In Indianapolis

All Indiana schools will remain closed until May 1, state testing canceled


The Arsenal Technical High School senior is due to start college in the fall at Harvard University and there’s a chance that, when he does, it’ll be his first time inside a classroom in more than six months.

“How am I going to get my diploma?” he wondered after learning that all of Indiana’s K-12 schools would be closed until at least May 1. “How is this going to work?”

While Gov. Eric Holcomb hasn’t closed schools through the end of the school year, which for Indianapolis Public Schools ends June 4, he made it clear during a press conference Thursday afternoon that it was a distinct possibility.

Many Hoosiers, including Medina, expect that to be the next step the state takes to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Medina already has all of the credits he needs to graduate high school. He’s taking all of his courses this semester at IUPUI – which, like most colleges across the country, has already announced it will finish the year online. He’s getting a head start on earning college credits, but it still worried about what the extended closure of his high school will mean for him and his classmates.


“I’m expecting that they’re going to cancel high school for the rest of the year,” he said. “So, for the next six months I’m not going to be in a classroom, which is a little crazy.”

State tests canceled
Holcomb announced a slate of measures – including the closing of schools until May – to combat the spread of the disease that has swept across the globe but did not go so far as to cancel school for the rest of the year.

Kansas became the first state to take that step on Tuesday.

Holcomb said state officials would continue to monitor the spread of the disease in Indiana and make a decision about the remainder of the school year down the road.


He did announce, though, the cancellation of all state testing — including the ISTEP10, ILEARN and IREAD-3 assessments — set to be given later this spring.

"If, by some miracle, we get students back this year, we'll use that time in class for instruction," he said, "not cramming for tests."

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The state has asked for testing forgiveness from the U.S. Department of Education News, but has not received it yet. Holcomb said he talked to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Wednesday and said she was supportive of the state’s efforts.

More than 1 million students home
The first of Indiana's public school districts closed last Monday. By Wednesday of this week, all of the state's public schools had closed, meaning more than 1 million Hoosier kids were suddenly at home.

Elizabeth Walker's three daughters — in seventh, fifth and first grades — haven't started home instruction yet. They attend schools in the Indianapolis Public Schools district, which isn't utilizing eLearning this week as kids head into a planned two-week spring break.

Right now, Walker said she and her husband — both working remotely — are just trying to adjust to working at home with their three girls. What that looks like for the month after spring break, when the girls will be home and theoretically "back to school" is a big question.

"The older ones can log on and manage their own school work," Walker said. "But the youngest, who's in first grade... I can't say, 'here's your plan for the next five hours. I'll see you then.'"

Walker said she understands the steps the state is taking are necessary, but she's not sure how families will manage educating students at home for such an extended period of time.

"I think it is necessary and we need to do what we need to do to save lives," she said. "I expect that it will have consequences for a long time for a lot of families."

While some districts can’t effectively do remote learning — either due to connectivity issues or lack of access to digital devices in some households – others are trying to keep students, more or less, on track.

Schools starting eLearning
At Carmel Clay schools, the district started eLearning on Wednesday for the first time.

“This is the second day of it,” said Peter O’Hara, president of the Carmel Teachers Association. “It is working out very well.”

The hope is, he said, to continue eLearning throughout the closure so that students and teachers can just pick up where they need to, whenever school returns to in-person classes.

Holcomb has given schools statewide a 20-day waiver from the requirement that schools meet for 180 instructional days in a school year.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said that number could change. The state is still working with schools to determine needs, which vary greatly from one district to the next, and figure out how best to meet them.

For many, those needs include getting food to families who typically rely on Education News schools to provide free or reduced-price meals to kids from low-income families. McCormick said that 94% of school districts have some sort of food assistance in place already and the state is working to ensure those programs can continue.

Answers for high school seniors
The Indiana Department of Education is working with schools to ensure the state's 75,000 high school seniors graduate on time.

"Our goal is to make sure that we graduate seniors," McCormick said.

Many seniors have already earned the credits they need, she said, but the department will work with schools in the coming days on guidance to help ensure seniors that haven't met all graduation requirements yet have the opportunity to do so.

Whether or not schools hold commencements is a decision for a later date, she said, that will probably be made at the district level.

Aldo Medina is already preparing himself to hear that his school’s graduation will be canceled. A trip he was supposed to take to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers was canceled last week. Harvard has canceled an orientation session planned for next month. For More Info Press Release Distribution Service

“I just feel like... I’ve been working so hard,” he said. “This is just, overall, just really disheartening.

“These are opportunities I’ve never going to get back.”

For More Info Visit
https://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2020/03/19/coronavirus-indiana-all-public-schools-closed-until-may-1/2875531001/

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