Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has announced all public schools in Marion County will close due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The announcement followed Governor Eric Holcomb’s order that all non-essential gatherings be limited to 250 people.
Hogsett made the announcement Thursday alongside Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine. The mayor said the MCPHD will work with the 13 school systems in the county, as well as mayoral-sponsored charter schools, to implement the closures, which will begin March 16 and continue through April 5.
“This decision is made in conversation with all public-school superintendents in Marion County, who agree it’s time to take this necessary step out of an abundance of caution,” Caine said in a news release. “We must take every opportunity to protect our children from any potential exposure to COVID-19 and reduce the possibility of further spread in our community.”
As part of the announcement, the mayor said city-county government will work with service providers and school districts to ensure meals will continue to be available during the closure period.
Hogsett also announced all non-essential large public gatherings in Indianapolis will be suspended, in keeping with the governor’s order. The restriction will be in place for 30 days.
“I want to be clear that these restrictions will have serious impacts on commerce, social events, and functions planned long in advance or held every year,” said Hogsett. “To those who argue these policies will be disruptive, my answer is simple: they better be. This virus and the threat it poses to our city, state, and country is massive. Left unchecked, it has the potential to wreak untold damage on our families and the very social safety net that protects our most vulnerable residents.”
Several additional higher education institutions detailed their responses to the coronavirus outbreak Thursday. Indiana State University, DePauw University, Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Earlham College, and Christian Theological Seminary will be switching to online and/or alternate instruction. None of the schools are reporting any cases of students, faculty or staff who are infected with the virus.
This follows many other schools who already detailed their plans this week.
Additionally, the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Event Center announced Thursday it is suspending all events at the fairgrounds until further notice. This weekend, the venue was set to host the 1500 Gun & Knife Show, the 2020 Flower & Patio Show, two Indy Fuel games and a concert from Erykah Badu.
“We will work in the coming weeks to reschedule those events that we can,” the fairgrounds said in a statement on its website. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but the safety and health of our guests, staff and community are our top priority.”