INDIANAPOLIS – Kindergarten through grade 12 schools will provide full-time, in-person learning next school year, according to Governor Eric Holcomb, who made the announcement Tuesday during an address to discuss the coronavirus and its impact on the state.
For Superintendent Aleesia Johnson of Indianapolis Public Schools, health and safety is priority number one.
“I’m hopeful that when we get to August we will be positioned to welcome everyone back,” said Johnson.
Right now, roughly 90% of Indiana schools are operating in person, but Governor Holcomb wants to bring all students back next school year.
“Our K-12 schools will provide full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 academic year using what they’ve learned and with the additional local, state and federal resources provided,” Holcomb said.
There will be many conversations between schools and local health departments to determine what exactly this looks like. Superintendent Johnson assumes masks and social distancing of some kind will still be important.
“If we have the mass majority of our community that’s been vaccinated, if we have a number of our high school students who have access to vaccination, then perhaps some of those mitigation measures won’t be as critical,” explained Johnson.
During the speech, Governor Holcomb announced that starting March 31, all Hoosiers 16 and older will be eligible for the vaccine.
“If everything goes as our leading healthcare professionals believe, then we think that’s going to be very doable,” added Keith Gambill, the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
His message to the state and schools: let’s proceed with caution and follow the science.
“I don’t think the hand sanitizer is going to go away,” said Gambill. “I do think we need to be prepared for times when we’re told for the next few weeks, we need to have everyone wearing a mask.”
Will the option to take part in virtual learning just go away? It’s too early to tell. IPS hasn’t made that decision yet.
“We’re going to remain hopeful that the vaccines do as we believe that they’re going to,” Gambill added.
“Please know are departments of education and health will work together to update health guidance in preparation of the next school year,” said Governor Holcomb.
The remaining students who are hybrid at IPS will return to April 5. IPS is currently not tracking staff who have been vaccinated, however, they plan to ask them soon.