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Lawrence Township to delay start of school year

The 10-day delay until August 13 will allow staff to better prepare for the start of classes, officials said.

INDIANAPOLIS — In a school district of 16,000 students and 2,400 employees between 21 schools, parents and teachers in Lawrence Township say they're concerned about the threat of COVID-19.

"I am here from my heart. I am here for all of the parents hearts who put our babies in your hands," said Trina Kelly, mother of two daughters, Taylor Ann and Tatum.

Kelly spoke at a school board meeting Monday, saying her two daughters don't want to come back, despite school now beginning August 13.

"Since March 13, my shining light (Taylor Ann) has grown dim because now she has been diagnosed with medical anxiety and depression because she fears her life of COVID-19," said Kelly.

Some teachers are also concerned.

"Consider the ramifications of reopening, especially too early. If our dive back in results in viral spread and forced closure, it will be in duress, relegating us to offer limited options to our community," said Laura Ritter, a teacher for the last 18 years.

School leaders said they have contingency plans for a variety of scenarios in the event someone tests positive for the virus.

They notify and get direction from the Marion County Public Health Department. Depending on the case, leaders can close one or more classrooms or schools for a period of time. 

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School clinics will screen for symptoms of the virus when exhibited by staff or students.

A virtual program is available for K-12 students who don't feel comfortable coming back to school. School leaders said devices are available to those who choose the E-learning option.

Superintendent Shawn Smith said he plans to meet with health leaders weekly.

"We are here to do what's right for our children and what's right for our teachers and to assure they're educated and while we do, everybody is safe," said Smith.

Despite safety measures in place, some are pushing for all students and staff to stay home.

"Our teachers are terrified, and worried and saddened. We know our children need to be educated, but to do so face-to-face is not safe at this time," said Kim Payne-Shearer, president of Lawrence Educational Association.

Smith said it's a fluid situation and anything can change. 

For more information on Lawrence Township Re-Entry Plan, click here.

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