Hamilton Southeastern, Muncie schools impacted by COVID-19: ‘It’s just very devastating’

Education

INDIANAPOLIS – COVID-19 continues to impact central Indiana schools.

We learned a staff member at a Hamilton County school lost her life due to the virus. With hundreds of students and staff quarantined and the uncertainty of more cases districts everywhere are making decisions to go virtual.

It’s no easy task and leaders are facing even more challenges ahead.

According to Hamilton Southeastern Superintendent Dr. Allen Bourff, Pam Podany died Tuesday night. Podany was the head cook at Thorpe Creek Elementary School. She was in her eighth year with HSE.

Bourff posting his condolences on social media.

This comes a day after the announcement that Pre-K through 6th graders would switch to 100 percent virtual learning because there aren’t enough healthy teachers.

“My heart goes out to Hamilton Southeastern and what they’re having to deal with,” said Dr. Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, the Director of Public Education and CEO Muncie Community Schools.

 It’s a loss that’s felt across the state.

“We watch multiple factors and our parents can be assured that we’re taking this extremely seriously,” Kwiatkowski added.

In Muncie, Kwiatkowski made the decision to close Southside Middle School after a COVID exposure that’s impacted the entire front office staff and administration.

“We had several teachers that were quarantined, and we had students quarantined also,” she said.

Many districts like Muncie and HSE are struggling to find substitute teachers to help right now.

“Just last week we trained eight new substitutes to come in,” said Kwiatkowski, “We are constantly trying to recruit substitutes, but it’s certainly a challenge.”

While each district is different and following their own guidelines to keep classrooms open or closed, leaders say safety is and remains their top priority.

“It’s just very devastating to hear of anybody having a loss because of COVID, but especially any type of school personnel,” Kwiatkowski added.

Southside Middle School in Muncie is expected to re-open November 30th.

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