Jefferson County Schools Release Closure Info and other Important Coronavirus Details


Harper Watson, Staff Reporter

Madison Indiana school and local officials have been taking precautionary measures in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus including the cancelation of Ivy tech courses and transferring to digital work as well. At Madison High school, the concerns of COVID-19 are addressed in an informative newsletter to parents and students. It covers prevention, testing, and monitoring measures but also what the school plans to do in their efforts of prevention and extra attention put towards the disinfection of high-touch and high-traffic areas. Additionally, while there were two, non-sponsored, scheduled spring break trips to Europe, they have recently been rescheduled for a summer date due to the risk of traveling and the newly-imposed travel bans. 

As of March 13, 2020, Jefferson County School districts will all be closed down. This includes Madison Consolidated Schools, Southwestern Jefferson County Schools, Prince of Peace Schools, Christian Academy of Madison, and Canaan Community Academy. Jeff Studebaker, Madison Consolidated Schools Superintendent, additionally released a joint statement in regards to the COVID-19 with neighboring Southerwestern Schools and Prince of Peace Schools. The decision to close down these schools will be effective as of March 16, 2020. 

Madison Consolidated students will not resume face-to-face learning until a tentative date on April 6, 2020. That date does have the potential to be reevaluated and pushed back if it is deemed necessary. 

Studebaker wrote, “District leadership and Dr. John Hossler have a meeting scheduled on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, to determine a future course of action based on the situation at that time.”

An academic schedule specific to MCS has been established. The Academic Hybrid Plan specifies that starting March 13th, students will be sent home with devices and chargers. March 16th and 17th there will be no online learning requirements. On March 17th, hard copy packets for assignments will be available to pick up starting at noon until the close of the business day Friday, March 20th. March 18th, 19th, and 20th will be eLearning days. March 21st – 29th is spring break. March 30th and 31st there are no online learning requirements. On March 31st, hard copy packets will be available to pick up starting at noon until the close of business day Friday. April 1st, 2nd, and 3rd will be eLearning days. If school is still not in session, more information will be announced.

The first round of eLearning hard copies can be submitted at Madison Consolidated Schools on March 31st and the second round of eLearning hard copy packets can be turned in on April 6th.

This decision extends to all school-sponsored extracurricular activities outside of school as well, effective as of March 13, 2020, at 4 p.m. seeing as the Madison Consolidated campuses and buildings will be shut down at that time. Joe Bronkella, MCHS Athletic Director, sent out information that states what will happen to the current spring sports schedules. It includes:

  • All spring season practices and games will be suspended until we return.
  • Absolutely no student-athlete presence at our school or on our facilities.
  • When we return, official numbers for practices must be met prior to a game/event.
  • There will be efforts to work with other schools in order to salvage as much of our spring season as possible.
  • There will be no feeder teams/players allowed in our facilities during this time.
  • All off-season conditioning will be suspended until we return.
  • Limited contact date begins April 6th – so no contact with athletes until that window expires or until school resumes.

Additionally, the IHSAA sent out a message to all coaches that addressed some of the spring sport updates as well. Two of the major points that will affect student-athletes are:

  • A decision on meeting a minimum number of contests to become eligible for the IHSAA tournament series events will be made at a later date.
  • At this time, the IHSAA is planning on staging all spring sports tournament series events as scheduled.

The Coronavirus, and the wide variety of information distributed, has either been misinformed or misinterpreted by the viewers. Simply put, the Cornan virus is a specific virus that infects the respiratory system and it is not to be confused with, “just the flu.” Far from that fact, the coronavirus is only similar to the flu in that in both the transmission of these diseases are similar and a patient may experience common symptoms. These symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, etc. If someone is experiencing these symptoms and believes that they may have the Coronavirus they should isolate themselves from others and stay at home, wear a face mask, cover their coughs and sneezes, avoid sharing personal items, clean frequently used surfaces and hands, and call before visiting a health care professional so that they can take the correct, precautionary steps. It should also be noted that adults over the age of 60 or people with compromised immune systems should take extra precautionary measures considering that it is more lethal if they were to contract this virus. 

Some common misconceptions concerning COVID-19 and that have been addressed by the World Health Organizations, or the WHO, include:

  • Corona can be transmitted in areas only with hot and humid climates.
  • Cold weather and snow can kill the new coronavirus.
  • Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease.
  • The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites.
  • Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus.
  • Vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus.
  • Regularly rinsing your nose with saline helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus.
  • Eating garlic helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus.

Each of these statements has been proven to be inaccurate or false and should not be followed as any form of prevention or treatment of the coronavirus. 

Globally, the coronavirus started its outbreak in Wuhan, China and quickly made its way around the world. The Center for Disease Control warns again traveling to Germany, Iceland, Italy, Iran, and Spain, due to the severity and number of cases located there. Reaching out even further, the virus has also spread to parts of Africa, Australia, Brazil, the United States, and more. Moreover, in the United States, there have been approximately 1600 infected and 40 deaths. To keep as many people healthy as possible, the practice of social distancing has been reinforced. That has included the cancellation and shutdown of many events such as the NCAA March Madness Tournament, Disneyland parks closing, and international travel bans have been implemented. This has even stretched the closings of many university campuses and school cancellations, instead of turning to digital and online learning. 

Mockup of the different elements of Covid-19 a.k.a. the Coronavirus.

Very recently, the Governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, has announced several precautionary measures that the state of Indiana will follow in order to curb the spreading of the virus, seeing as of March 12, 2020, 12 Indiana residents have been tested positive for the disease. The orders include:

  • Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people.
  • School corporations will be provided with a 20-day waiver of the required 180 instructional days for use as needed for the remainder of the academic year. The waived days do not need to be used consecutively and can be leveraged as needed.
  •  If a school corporation has evidence of community spread or a confirmed positive test for coronavirus, officials should consult with the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State Department of Health for additional steps. Schools should plan now for broader closures, including eLearning and remote classroom options.
  • Schools should follow the guidelines for non-essential gatherings as they make decisions about non-essential extra-curricular or co-curricular activities.
  • Nursing facilities and hospitals should restrict and screen visitors. Any individual who is allowed to visit is restricted to the patient’s room. Visitors are not allowed if they present with any of these criteria:
    • Display signs or symptoms of illness, especially respiratory illness.
    • Has traveled internationally or been in contact with someone with a respiratory illness in the past 14 days.
    • Reside in a community with a known COVID-19 case.
    • Those who are less than 18 years of age.

Overall, the Coronavirus is something to be concerned about and should be treated in a serious manner. It is within the community’s power to do everything possible to curb the expansion of the virus by practicing social distancing, good hygiene, and most importantly, washing your hands frequently. The information presented should help answer most questions in regards to what local precautions are being taken and how COVID-19 has impacted not only the United States but globally as well. For information in regards to the MCS closure plan please click this link. Governor Holcomb expects additional actions to be made.