In response to the spread of the new coronavirus, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced today that all Indiana schools will be closed until at least May 1 and that all student assessments for the academic year have been canceled.
Holcomb said during a press conference that the state is looking at 30-, 60- and 90-day increments to assessing school closures and will reassess whether schools should open closer to May 1. However, he referred to the idea of students returning to schools this academic year as “a miracle.”
Holcomb also announced state student assessments, including the ISTEP10 and ILEARN assessments, would be canceled.
The announcements come after the Indiana State Dept. of Health earlier today reported 56 positive cases of COVID-19, the disease stemming from the new coronavirus. As of this time, two Indiana residents have died from the disease. Both were over 60 years old.
Some schools will continue to provide education services through eLearning, but not all schools have the capability, and not all students have home access to take advantage of it if it’s offered.
Indiana Supt. of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said there is a gap around the state concerning eLearning. McCormick said approximately half of Indiana districts are one-to-one, meaning there is one child to one device. But she said that does not mean half of all school districts and school children have home access or take-home devices. She said schools are “working diligently to get devices home other than a phone. It’s difficult to run eLearning on a single phone.”
“There is a gap, and I’m not going to pretend that there’s not one,” McCormick said during the press conference. “But that’s where schools have to make that difficult decision. Do they have the capacity as a community to run eLearning, or do they have to just close their doors and not run eLearning?”
McCormick said the state is collecting data on how widespread eLearning is to better assess the needs of school corporations and the state education system as a whole.
Holcomb also announced during a press conference that 22,583 Indiana residents have filed for unemployment insurance benefits in the last three days. At this time last year, just over 3,100 Indiana residents filed for unemployment insurance benefits over the course of the same calendar week, Holcomb said.
Earlier this week, Holcomb ordered all restaurants, bars and entertainment-based businesses close dine-in services and only offer dine-out services.
In addition, delaying the Indiana primary election is under discussion, according to Holcomb, who said he personally supports the idea of delaying the primary election. The state’s primary is set for May 5, at this time. Ohio canceled its primary election late Monday night over public health concerns, and more are expected to follow.
State income taxes have also been delayed from April 15 to July 15, to match federal government delays.