Nathan Miller | Editor-in-Chief
State-level health officials were present at the Avon Community School Corporation Administration Center for a press conference on March 9, 2020. Schools were closed that day after a Hickory Elementary School student tested positive for COVID-19, more commonly called the coronavirus. The eyes of Indiana were upon this meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Maggie Hoernemann was the first to speak after Communications Coordinator Stacey Moore began the press conference.
Hoernemann said that a second student has been showing symptoms of COVID-19 and that the Hendricks County Health Department and ACSC have been working to discover the web of people that have encountered either student.
“That web has grown very large,” she said.
According to the CDC, “the onset and duration of viral shedding and period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are not yet known.” Hoernemann announced that, as a precaution, all Avon schools will be closed for two weeks.
“The most prudent course for our school system is to close all Avon Community Schools through Friday, March 20,” Hoernemann said. “This will minimize any exposure in large groups and will allow plenty of time for our buildings and our buses to be thoroughly cleaned.”
Hoernemann said that students will complete daily e-learning assignments for the next two weeks, after which they have the already-scheduled, two-week spring break. Students will not again attend school in-person until Monday, April 6.
Indiana’s state Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said this was done to establish a great enough social distance that the spread of the virus is slowed.
“This is not a spring break where everybody runs out and goes to the mall, goes to the movie, goes to the theater, goes to whatever museum,” Box said. “We really need, if we’re going to have this work, to have these individuals social distance, which means that you go home.”
Box was questioned about if canceling school would make much of a difference if parents would still send their kids to daycare.
“A group of four to six children is a lot different than a group of 450 kids all eating lunch together,” Box said. “The social distancing that we do in smaller groups is very different than what happens in school systems.”
Above all else, Dr. Box and others at the conference reminded the Avon community that this is not a time to panic.
“What we don’t need is to have every person walking into the emergency room and asking to be tested for COVID-19,” Box said. “Children that get COVID-19 not only do very well with it…, but their mortality rate with that, or their death rate, is below influenza.”
Of 30 people tested for COVID-19 in Indiana, four have tested positive: one in Marion County contracted the virus while in Boston; another in Hendricks County had a “similar contact,” Dr. Box said; the Hickory student is the third case; and the fourth is in Noble County in northern Indiana.
Box said all four individuals are stable. When asked, Box and Hoernemann would not comment on if the ACSC student who tested positive for COVID-19 was at all connected to the student now showing symptoms or which school this student attended.
Hendricks County Health Officer Dr. David Stopperich said the path to defeat COVID-19 is a simple one: distance yourself, wash your hands, and wipe down surfaces.
Read about how students and teachers have adapted to this change here: Students and Teachers Adjust to 2 Weeks of e-Learning Following ACSC Coronavirus Case
Read about how this closure affects extracurricular activities: Extracurriculars Disrupted by COVID-19
Read about if students will take these two weeks seriously: Will Students Self-Quarantine During School Shutdown?