While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for August 17

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INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

IPS students begin remote learning. Over 30,000 Indianapolis Public Schools students are heading back to class, but they won’t technically be in the classroom to start the year. Instead, all students will begin remote learning today.

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson shared a video online to welcome students and families back and highlight some changes they can expect this year.

First, all students received either an iPad or a Chromebook for the new school year. A mobile hot spot device was also given to families without internet access.

Johnson says students will have a daily schedule and attendance will be taken in classes.

IPS also will provide meals for students. 

“IPS will provide two days’ worth of meals Mondays and Tuesdays and three days’ worth of meals Wednesdays and Thursdays. Families can choose the day which is most convenient for them for pick up,” Johnson said. 

You can find more information about the meal schedule here.

The district will continue with virtual learning through at least October 2. Officials hope this will allow coronavirus cases throughout Marion County to go down and stabilize.

New saliva-based COVID-19 test. There may soon be a quick, non-invasive and inexpensive way to find out if someone is infected with the coronavirus.

Over the weekend, the FDA granted emergency approval for a special saliva COVID-19 test called SalivaDirect. It was developed by researchers from Yale, and it appears to be fairly accurate, cheap and fast.

Instead of a nasal swab, this test only needs a small sample of your saliva.

Some people may have been a little uncomfortable with having a cotton swab stuck up their nose for a COVID-19 test, so this may come as a relief.

According to public health experts, there are several benefits for this new test. They say it doesn’t need the same reagents or chemical ingredient and swabs that have been used for other testing. That means it would be more widely available and close the testing gap in many states.

The researchers who developed the test estimate it will cost around $10, and results will be available in about three hours.

The NBA was among the groups that funded research for the test and currently uses the method to test for asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

Since the test was just recently approved, there is no word on where and when the test will be available in the Indianapolis area. 

Wheeler Mission guest tests positive. Wheeler Mission says one guest at the men’s residential center has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Right now, the organization is working closely with the Marion County Health Department to develop a quarantine solution for staff and impacted guests on the fourth floor of their center.

We know at least one staff member was in close contact with the infected guest. There is no word on how many other people are affected by the quarantine.

Another high school football game canceled. Indiana high school football starts this Friday, but several teams already canceled their first game.

The latest team to do so is New Palestine High School. Officials said a significant number of players are ineligible to play because they must quarantine. As a result, New Pal will forfeit its first game against Decatur Central and the game will not be rescheduled. 

The junior varsity game is also canceled.

Decatur Central was scheduled to play New Pal. They say they’re “exploring other options” to play this week.

Last week, it was announced that the game between Warren Central and Center Grove was canceled after several players and coaches at Warren Central had to quarantine.

COVID-19 positive person on school bus. Plainfield Community School Corporation announced an individual tested positive for the coronavirus while riding the school bus. We do not know if the infected person is a student or a driver.

The district notified students and staff who may have had close contact with the individual. The superintendent says if you didn’t get a phone call yesterday evening, your child was not in close contact with the infected person.

The person who tested positive must now isolate for at least ten days.

The bus was cleaned and sanitized.

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