The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 1:00 am

Indiana's schools see 38% rise in new cases

ASHLEY SLOBODA and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana K-12 schools reported a 38% increase in COVID-19 cases in the past week, and LaGrange County is leading the state in positivity, according to Monday's updated state coronavirus numbers.

More than 3,300 new COVID-19 cases hit Indiana schools – bringing the total to 11,873. Of that, 8,217 are students and the rest are teachers and staff. The state's school dashboard updates on Mondays.

East Allen County Schools announced Monday an influx of confirmed COVID-19 cases is prompting a switch to virtual learning for grades seven through 12 beginning Wednesday.

Except for New Haven Primary, cases are affecting every EACS school. There are at least 49 student cases district-wide, including 23 at Leo Junior-Senior High School, along with at least 25 teacher and staff cases, according to the state's school virus dashboard.

The school dashboard was updated Monday and reflects data as of Friday. Exact counts are unknown because specifics are suppressed for totals less than five cases.

Virtual learning will continue for EACS junior high and high school students through Nov. 24. In-person classes are expected to resume Nov. 30, but community spread could change that, the district said in a news release.

A lack of substitute teachers contributed to the decision. EACS is optimistic that moving the secondary grades to virtual instruction will free substitutes to help elementary classes, which will continue in-person learning, the release said.

Northwest and Southwest Allen County schools announced similar moves last week.

Cases affecting Allen County schools have increased from at least 349 last week to at least 466 reported Monday. This includes at least 185 confirmed cases in Fort Wayne Community Schools, at least 74 in EACS, at least 71 in NACS and at least 50 in SACS, according to dashboard data.

Schools are not required to report, so the case numbers are minimums.

The school spread is mirroring the increase of the virus around the state.

On Monday, the state added 5,218 new cases and 26 new deaths, and Allen County reported 316 new cases but no new deaths.

LaGrange County has the highest positivity rate of tests in the state at 30%. The next highest county in northeast Indiana is Whitley at 18.7%.

Indiana set a new record – again – for the number of COVID-related hospitalizations, with 2,768 Hoosiers hospitalized. About 750 of those are in the intensive care unit. Statewide, about 560 ICU beds are available, but some individual hospitals are at capacity.

Extra-curricular activities in EACS will continue as planned following health protocols, the district said, noting custodians also will continue to deep clean and sanitize schools.

District leaders will work with the Allen County Department of Health as they monitor community spread, the release said. Staff will contact students about any changes.

EACS is hopeful the shift to virtual learning will be temporary.

Superintendent Marilyn Hissong said schools can't accomplish this alone.

“Parents/guardians, we need your help and support in following COVID mitigation strategies so that we can slow the spread in our East Allen Community,” she said in a statement.

New Cases

Adams: 50

Allen: 316

DeKalb: 148 (2 deaths)

Huntington: 21

Kosciusko: 128

LaGrange: 12

Noble: 42 (2 deaths)

Steuben: 31

Wabash: 35 (1 death)

Wells: 18

Whitley: 22 (1 death)

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