One week ago, the Fishers Health Department met to decide upon the fate of athletics, extracurricular activities, gatherings and restaurant and bar dining. When asked what the rational was behind canceling activities and athletics, Fishers Public Health Director Monica Heltz eloquently said, “The education of our children is important, it’s the single most important thing and anything we can do to preserve that in its best format possible is what we’re trying to achieve and all of those other opportunities for interaction do not achieve that. They result in more quarantines, more exposures… The cumulative effect of having those multiple exposure opportunities and wanting to prioritize which ones we’re going to be okay with, and that needs to be in school learning rather than extracurriculars.”
A vote was taken on Friday and the measures enacted were less strict than what the Fishers Board of Health recommended. Today, November 17, Hamilton Southeastern Schools decided that students in Pre-K through 6th grades would begin 100% virtual learning starting this Thursday (11/19) with plans to return to the classroom on Monday, December 7th. Students in 7th-12th grades are already learning remotely and will continue to do through winter break.
Fishers Mayor, Scott Fadness made a statement addressing the HSE School Board’s decision to move to 100% virtual:
“Neither my administration nor our health department were aware of HSE’s decision to move PK-6 education to 100% virtual learning. We have worked tirelessly to keep our schools open and have publicly stated that we believe schools should be open. In fact, today we intended to announce the opening of an additional COVID-19 testing site dedicated to any student or staff member at HSES that had been exposed. I am extremely concerned about the burden that this will cause parents with a mere 48-hour notice for closure. My commitment to our residents is that I will do all that we can to see our schools open again.”
Eileen White, the creator of Public Health is Your Job, Too is the former epidemiologist for the Fishers Health Department. She left during COVID after two months on the job because of the interference of political leadership. Today she took to Facebook to share her thoughts:
“The mayor should not have an opinion on whether our schools are open or closed, the Health Department is an independent assessor of the community metrics, and the community metrics should be determining whether our schools are open or closed and that should be up to the schools.”
She went on to point to the Mayor’s statement being inappropriate and based on him being “overly involved in the health department.”
“In the end, this is because we have no available subs, teachers are getting stretched everywhere and exposing so many more groups because there’s certainly not any co-horting happening right now…teachers trying to cover shortages every which way, there’s all kinds of shortages going on. The health department sets the metrics and the school board has to make a decision based on what they have.”
An email was sent to HSE parents and guardians following the meeting on Tuesday, November 17, 2020;
IMPORTANT: HSE Board of School Trustees Approves Moving Grades PreK-6 to 100% Virtual Instruction Model
The Board of School Trustees on Tuesday morning voted to move students PreK-6 to 100% Virtual Instruction, effective on Thursday, November 19 through Friday, December 4.
We continue to experience a lack of sub coverage for many of our classrooms, despite our best attempts to reroute additional resources from the secondary buildings to assist in filling open positions in grades PreK-6.
The board will reassess the situation for PreK-6 prior to December 4 to determine the best learning model for students moving forward. Students in grades 7-12 will continue to be 100% virtual until Winter Break (December 18).
We understand how difficult this is for students, staff and families. Please know that we remain committed to serving the school community through this pandemic.
It was also approved by the board to ensure HSE support staff are paid during this period of 100% virtual instruction for students.
For families in need of childcare, the Fishers YMCA will be offering an all-day care option at Riverside Intermediate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Click here for more information and to register your child.
During this time, it’s imperative that families stay connected with their child’s teacher and school as additional details become available. District updates will continue to be posted here.
Hamilton County has a 16.6% seven day positivity rate while Fishers reports a 6.76% positivity rate. The Health Department reports that hospitals are significantly strained and daily hospitalizations are moderately increased.
Other central Indiana school systems are preparing to return to virtual learning this week. Last week, the Washington Township School Board made the decision to return to virtual learning beginning tomorrow (11/18) and the following day, all Marion County schools followed suit by order of the Indianapolis Mayor. Additionally, Indianapolis is under a public health order that includes new restrictions for restaurants, public gatherings and other areas of businesses and entertainment.