Myers On School Reopenings: Leadership At State, Federal Levels 'Inadequate'

Jul 22, 2020

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers wears a face mask during a union-organized rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Credit Justin Hicks / IPB News

Indiana's Democratic challenger in the race for governor says the state needs to offer clearer health guidelines for schools to follow as they plan to reopen. 

Dr. Woody Myers is the former state health commissioner, facing off against Gov. Eric Holcomb in the state's gubernatorial race this fall. Myers said leadership at the state and federal levels has been inadequate during the pandemic. 

Indiana has left school reopening planning largely to local health departments and officials, but Myers said the state should have a set of specific COVID-19-related factors guiding schools as they figure out how to reopen.

"I'm very afraid given the numbers that I'm seeing today that Indiana is going to move in the direction of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas," he said.

He says school reopening plans don't need to all look the same, especially in places with low numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But he says, class sizes in many schools have to be reduced to reopen safely. 

"The highest risk is for full size in person classes where students cannot properly follow social distancing guidelines so we're coming out very strongly today and saying that's not the right approach for Indiana," he said.

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Myers says if they can't reopen this fall with smaller class sizes and social distancing in classrooms, schools should embrace more virtual options. He also has urged schools to require face masks wherever and as often as possible for students and staff. 

The winner of Indiana's gubernatorial election will also decide who takes over the state's department of education in January. Myers says he isn't ready to unveil who has made his shortlist just yet, but said during Tuesday's call he aims to announce who he would select for the job, ahead of the election.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.