INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana COVID-19 task force discussed what is in store for Hoosier schools during Thursday’s briefing, along with updates in the medical and employment sectors.
During the news conference, the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Indiana announced that K-12 schools in Indiana would remain closed until the end of the academic year.
Dr. Jennifer McCormick announced that the schools are instructed to deliver remote instruction and that the schools must complete 160 total instructional days or at least 20 more days of remote learning from Thursday through the end of the school year.
This will affect graduating High School seniors, with many previously having to complete an end-of-term exam. The Indiana Department of Education waived those requirements, allowing all high school seniors on track to graduate before the schools were closed the flexibility, they need to earn an Indiana diploma.
For other grades, the department is relying on local school officials to decide if students have done the work to earn their credits for the second semester.
The department is also working to minimize the learning gap by requiring schools to create a continuous learning plan. It is working to protect teachers by extending expiring teacher licenses through September 1 and waiving some emergency teaching permit requirements.
Dr. McCormick offered a word to students as they deal with this difficult time.
“Hang in there, you are doing an amazing job and we need you to meet us halfway.”DR. JENNIFER MCCORMICK, SUPERINENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
The Indiana State Department of Health also provided an update Thursday, amid Indiana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases surging past 3,000.
Dr. Kristina Box announced that the state has begun receiving patent data showing who has been hospitalized by coronavirus and who has left following treatment.
The department also announced that the state has received its third, and possibly final, shipment from the national stockpile. Dr. Box said that the stockpile was meant to help a few states dealing with a crisis, not all 50 states dealing with an ongoing pandemic.
Dr. Box addressed the CDC reviewing its guidance on wearing masks, commenting that people should not go outside long enough to need one.
“Those medical masks that we have need to be saved for our providers, our front-line people who are taking care of COVID-19 patients.”DR. KRISTINA BOX
Dr. Box encourages people to wear a homemade mask if they feel more comfortable wearing a mask, but there are not enough medical masks to mask everyone in the state.
She continues to encourage people to avoid touching their faces, practice social distancing and stay home a little while longer.
The commissioner from the Department of Workforce Development provided an update to the unemployment rate in the state Thursday, saying unemployment insurance claims have been on the rise throughout the month.
Fred Payne said they have received more than 200,000 calls about unemployment insurance. To handle the influx of calls, the department is updating its infrastructure, hiring more people for the call center and claims management.
To help those seeking unemployment benefits, the department is allowing late filing of applications, suspending the one-week waiting period before people can receive a benefit and relaxing certain statutes related to employment separation.
The department is also opening a new phone option for people to apply for unemployment insurance. Before calling, however, the department encourages people to check out its website for more information.
Governor Holcomb is expected to provide an update to the state’s stay-at-home order during Friday’s briefing.