Coronavirus: State Reports 6th Prison Case, IDOE, Public TV Partner For Remote Learning

Apr 8, 2020

 

Outside of Indiana University Health's Methodist Hospital, a sign reads, "You are more than essential. Our community stays home for you."
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 34 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 173. The state announced 5,507 total confirmed cases, with more than 28,000 Hoosiers tested.

IDOE Partners With Public Television To Promote Distance Learning

Education leaders are searching for new tools and technology to help students access learning materials from home as school buildings remain closed because of the new coronavirus. But a new initiative announced Monday takes advantage of old-school tech: public television.

PBS stations already air educational shows and programming, like Sesame Street and the science series NOVA. And the new initiative between the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations (IPBS) aims to connect those programs to the state’s real academic standards.

A map of stations and more details about the initiative can be found online at the department’s website or at PBSlearningmedia.org.

IPBS also provides financial and other support for Indiana Public Broadcasting.

Six People In Indiana Prisons Test Positive 

As of noon Monday, six people in three different Indiana Department of Corrections facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a recent court filing from the agency’s chief medical officer. 

Last week, state officials confirmed a total of five cases at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis and the Plainfield Correctional Facility. Now, according to the filing from Dr. Kristen Dauss, another case has been confirmed at the Edinburgh Correctional Facility. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb, state lawmakers and activists such as the ACLU of Indiana have all expressed concerns about the spread of coronavirus among people in jails and prisons. Tight quarters, advanced age and underlying health conditions could make many prisoners vulnerable to the disease.

St. Joseph County, Indiana Jail Decreasing Amount Of Inmates

There are fewer inmates in the St. Joseph County, Indiana jail today than in past months. That's because of precautions county officials are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the jail.

The fewer people in jail, the less of a risk there is of spreading the coronavirus among inmates and employees. It also creates space within the jail to keep a distance between inmates and for quarantine if needed.

County Sheriff Bill Redman says in mid-March, there were about 615 inmates and as of Monday that number was 466.

“God forbid we have anyone test positive or we have an outbreak of COVID-19 in our jail, whether it’s inmates or staff members,” Redman says. “That would make it extremely difficult to maintain safety and security for our staff and the inmates.”

Redman says police officers haven’t been making as many immediate arrests for misdemeanors and non-violent crimes. Instead, they’ve been doing more of what are called long form arrests to help limit the amount of people in jail at one time.

More Than 200 Indiana Communities Receive Road Funding Grants

More than 200 Hoosier communities are getting road funding dollars from the state in this year’s “Community Crossings” program.

Indiana first awarded the local road funding grants in 2016. Larger counties, cities and towns must match 50 percent of the money the state sends, while smaller communities only have to come up with 25 percent.

Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness says the grants – $126 million in total – can be transformative for local communities.

McGuinness says less road traffic – under the “Stay-At-Home” order – also means the state is moving up some major interstate construction projects.

Traffic on state roads has decreased about 40 percent on weekdays and more than 50 percent on weekends since the order took effect.

Funeral Homes Turn To Tech To Maintain Social Distance 

In-person funerals are officially restricted to immediate family only. Many funeral homes are doing live-streamed services, posting videos after or working with families to postpone memorial services. 

Starks Funeral Homes, with six chapels in Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan, is doing something called “Hugs from Home.” Condolence messages taken online or over the phone are attached to balloons. The balloons are placed in the chapel during the family service to be there when friends and relatives can’t be.

READ MORE: Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What The Expanded 'Stay-At-Home' Order Really Does

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Officials encourage people to keep funerals small for now and utilize technology to include more mourners. Or postpone services until the pandemic is over.

Performing Arts Programs In Indianapolis Take Financial Hit

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has canceled performances through the end of May, cut its administrative staff in half and placed musicians and stagehands on unpaid furlough.

A press release from CEO James Johnson says the moves were made to protect the long-term viability of the organization.

READ MORE: Storefront Theatre, Community Partners Experience Domino Effect Of Pandemic

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is suing its insurer over lost business income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theater company is among many local arts organizations forced to cancel performances due to the pandemic. The IRT claims its insurance policy protects against a loss of income due to a forced suspension of business. Cincinnati Casualty is denying the claim saying there must be “physical” damage to the property. 

IndyCar Adds Third Race At Indianapolis Motor Speedway For 2020 Season

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is scheduled to host an additional IndyCar race this fall.

The Harvest GP is set to run Saturday, Oct. 3, towards the end of the 2020 racing season.

The announcement comes after several IndyCar races have been postponed or canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In Greater Lafayette Schools, Spring Break Ends, Grappling With The Unknown

At West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School, counselor Libby Sheffield and her team would typically be deep into a routine testing season, managing ISTEP, scheduling ACTs and SATs, and preparing for Advanced Placement testing – but not this year.

“We’re just kind of flying by the seat of our pants, honestly,” Sheffield says. “We just really want to stay in touch with everybody, because we’re kind of the department that is the glue that holds everything together, and this is hard. Really, really hard.”

Sheffield says they’re grappling with the unknown: how impacts on learning now will reveal themselves in the future.

“For all students, we base a lot on what they do next year on how they did this year,” Sheffield says. “And that’s going to be true K-12. And we really aren’t going to have a very accurate picture of, truly, what they learned and what they’re capable of from this fourth quarter.” 

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.