NewsHealth / June 7, 2020

Coronavirus: Indiana Releases School Reopening Guidelines, State Workforce Recovery Plan

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Coronavirus: Indiana Releases School Reopening Guidelines, State Workforce Recovery Plan

One of Manuel High School's teachers runs up excitedly to a vehicle during the school's drive-thru graduation.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 43 additional confirmed deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s total to 2,121. The state announced more than 37,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 304,000 Hoosiers tested.

Indiana Unveils Recommendations For Schools To Reopen, But Not How They'll Afford It

Hoosier schools can begin to reopen their doors starting July 1 after being closed for months because of COVID-19. The state released a new set of guidelines Friday for schools to consider as they bring people back to campuses. 

The guidance recommends schools screen staff and students for COVID symptoms, and that people in schools wear masks. It says schools will likely need to provide masks to staff and students and follow social distancing rules. State Health Commissioner Kris Box says how schools follow the guidance is a local decision. 

"Our superintendents, our principals, our teachers, in conjunction with their local health departments, are the individuals that really need to make this decision about their community and for their community," Box says.

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Following the guidelines' release, the Indiana State Teachers Association said in a statement that schools should not bear the financial burden of implementing the recommendations. 

State Workforce Agencies Announce Recovery Plan for Workers

The Indiana Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, alongside state education and workforce agencies, announced a “Rapid Recovery For A Better Future” plan that adds millions of dollars to some existing education and job training programs. It’s meant to help workers come back from record unemployment levels due to COVID-19.

The recovery plan uses $50 million from the federal CARES Act to scale up and promote existing workforce programs. For instance, the Workforce Ready Grant available for workers to take community college classes in certain industries will be almost doubled. Grants for employers to provide on-the-job training will also be doubled. It also provides more ways for workers to connect with career counselors online and over the phone.

Mother, Daughter Face COVID-19 In Nursing Facility, At Home

Nearly half of Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities. Twenty-three-year-old Aubrey Baker is a qualified medication aide at Wildwood Healthcare Center, a nursing facility in Indianapolis. Her mother, Lenore Williams, oversees the center. They spoke to reporter Lauren Bavis about how the virus has impacted their work, and how it hit close to home. 

Lenore Williams: When COVID came, changes were coming every single day. You know, it would be one way on Monday and another way on Tuesday. We just kind of had to roll with the punches and get things set up so that we would be able to take care of the patients appropriately and try to minimize the effects of COVID. 

Aubrey Baker: I've been working at Wildwood since I was 18 years old. I can be a certified nursing aide as well, which is where you care for the patients, clean them up, feed them, basically daily activities that they would need help with.

Williams: One of our patients had signs [of COVID-19]. And I knew that Aubrey had worked with the patient, but so had some other staff members as well. And then she had told me that her body was hurting. 

Baker: At one point I was popping popcorn for a resident, and I had actually burnt it because I just stopped smelling. Like, my sense of smell went away out of nowhere. And I came out with the popcorn and I was taking it down the hall and they were like, ‘Aubrey, where are you going with that?’ I'm like, 'I'm going to take this to the lady, what do you mean?' And they're like, ‘That's burnt.’ And I'm like, 'No it's not.' And I opened the bag and it was just all black kernels. 

May Revenue Down $220 Million, Overall Nearly $1 Billion Less Than Budgeted For

State revenue numbers were about $220 million below projections, or about 20 percent. Year-to-date revenue collections are almost $1 billion less than budgeted for.

June is expected to be the second highest revenue month behind April at $2 billion. Indiana Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnston says the state may benefit from corporate and individual tax deadlines due July 15.

2020 Indiana State Fair Canceled Due To COVID-19 Concerns

The 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The State Fair Commission and Board announced Thursday it will instead offer a 4-H livestock show in August and September as a kind of replacement.

The fair, in Indianapolis, draws around 900,000 people annually.

As Dentists Reopen, COVID-19 Uncertainties Have Some Workers Worried

Even without a global pandemic, dentistry is inherently riskier than many other medical professions.

That’s because dentists and hygienists spend a lot of time inches away from wide-open mouths, conducting procedures known to generate aerosols — tiny droplets that can linger in the air and carry viruses. 

So when dental hygienist Jeanne Bosecker started back at work in mid-May, she says it felt a little soon to be reopening for routine dental care.

But once she learned about the infection control precautions her office in the northwest Chicago suburbs was taking, she felt more comfortable.

The large office space allows Bosecker and co-workers to spread out, which she feels minimizes the COVID-19 risks to her and her patients. She is also taking steps to reduce aerosols — scraping teeth by hand, instead of using the ultrasonic machines that spray air and water.

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

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