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Dr. Roland Walker, left-right, Dr. Paige McNulty, and GlenEva Dunham at Gary City Hall

Gary public schools change course, will reopen with e-learning

Contributed By:The 411 News

Covid-19 spikes alarm state and local officials

A decision to end in-school learning and have all students learn at home was announced by the Gary school district's Emergency Manager Paige McNulty today.

It was just a week ago when McNulty announced the district would open on August 12 with options for families to choose traditional classroom learning for their students or e-learning at home. Because of Covid-19, those 2 options were determined by many Lake County school districts to be the safest and healthiest ways to reopen schools.

Since then things have changed. With today's announcement, the Gary Community Schools Corporation now joins Portage Township Schools starting the school year off with e-learning.

McNulty announced the new direction for Gary schools at a press conference in Gary's City Hall, flanked by the city's Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker and Gary Teachers Union president GlenEva Dunham.

"I'm making this decision after looking at several things. A number of our key staff in our central office have tested positive in the last week," McNulty said. "Also numbers in Lake County continue to grow."

McNulty said it didn't make sense to open schools and have to close them again if an outbreak reoccurs.

Chromebooks will be given to each student and the district will continue with its weekly meals distribution.

"Until numbers go down and it is safe, we will return," McNulty said.

The spike of Covid-19 cases in Indiana resembles that of nearly every part of the country. Although nowhere near the surges seen in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California.

Indiana reported 918 new infections on July 18, just under its highest daily count of 946 new cases reported back on April 26. Indiana's growing coronavirus cases alarmed Gov. Holcomb and state health officials enough to pause the state's reopening plans. In the last week, Gary, Merrillville, and the Lake County Health Dept. have mandated the wearing of face masks. And today, the governor issued a mandatory mask order for the entire state.

Gary and East Chicago are the county's hot spots. Both cities had been seeing only single-digit increases daily. In the last 2 weeks, increases have been in double-digits. East Chicago reported a total of 645 cases on July 20, that was 33 more than on July 17. Gary reported a total of 946 cases on July 20, that was 38 more than on July 17.

Overall, Lake County reported its highest daily count of new cases of 145 on July 10. Lake County reported a total of 6,379 cases on July 22.

Snapshot of Covid-19 Cases in Lake County At This Time in Previous Months

MonthCasesMonth Increase
April 221343
May 223177Plus 1834
June 224490Plus 1313
July 226379Plus 1889

Dr. Walker said he supports e-learning for the start of school. "It's not just about protecting students, but also protecting family members. Students can contract the virus and bring it back home to parents and grandparents."

As for sports, football and basketball are out. The non-contact sports like cross country, track, tennis, and baseball are allowable. "I tell people about Hassan Whiteside, a professional basketball player. He's had 20-21 coronavirus tests. I ask parents 'How many tests have your children had.'"

Story Posted:07/22/2020

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