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Indiana's Rise In COVID-19 Cases Challenges Leaders Trying To Keep Schools Open

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Early research indicates there's no link between school buildings reopening and widespread community outbreaks, but some schools are being forced to move back online due to a new wave of COVID-19 cases in Indiana. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Indiana is one of several states seeing a new wave of COVID-19 cases with some counties getting hit harder than others, and the rising numbers are creating additional challenges for schools struggling to stay open.

In Fountain and Warren counties, a spike in cases earlier this month prompted the local health department to issue new recommendations for schools. That list included recommendations to return students to remote learning and cancel extracurricular activities for two weeks.

Covington Community School Corporation Superintendent Kevin Smith said the constantly changing situation makes it hard to provide a stable learning environment for staff, students and their families. 

"Let's just be frank: this is a difficult environment to provide consistent educational opportunities in the rigorous and relevant manner that we believe we need to for our children," he said.

Finding people to do things like drive buses, prepare meals and lead classrooms gets tricky when a lot of people have to quarantine or get sick. Smith said no major disruptions had occurred this fall – until his schools were suddenly forced to go back to remote learning earlier this month.

"You know there's just a whole lot of uncertainty that really makes our decision-making quite honestly – more so than ever at least in my career experiences – moment by moment," he said.

Research shows little to no evidence that schools are driving the new outbreaks. 

Meanwhile, Indiana's COVID-19 numbers continue to climb. Just last week, the state broke its daily case-count record, hitting more than 2,000 new cases in a single day.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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