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Staff member at Hamilton Southeastern elementary school dies of COVID-19

Pam Podany was a cook at Thorpe Creek Elementary School.

FISHERS, Ind. — A staff member at Thorpe Creek Elementary School in Fishers has died from COVID-19, according to the superintendent.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out today to the family of Pam Podany, a Thorpe Creek staff member who died last night from Covid," HSE Schools Superintendent Allen Bourff said in a tweet Wednesday morning. "Condolences also to her school family."

Podany was the head cook at Thorpe Creek Elementary. She had been at the school for eight years. The district told 13News that Podany had started the school year, but she had been out sick for weeks.   

The family told the district they appreciate all of the thoughts and condolences, however, they asked that their privacy is respected as they grieve the loss of their mother and grandmother.

Pam Podany is one of at least 655 Hoosiers who've died with COVID this month, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Nearly 2,000 staff members in schools across Indiana have been diagnosed so far this fall. At Thorpe Creek Elementary, fewer than five cases have been confirmed among staff members. Fewer than five cases have been confirmed among students there as well.

Credit: WTHR
Thorpe Creek Elementary School in Fishers.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools announced Tuesday all students in Pre-K through sixth grade would move to virtual schooling starting Thursday, Nov. 19 through Friday, Dec. 4. The decision was made because the district continues to have problems finding substitute teachers to fill in for quarantined faculty.

Students in seventh grade and older will remain in virtual learning until winter break. The board will reassess the situation for younger students prior to Dec. 4.

"We understand how difficult this is for students, staff and families. Please know that we remain committed to serving the school community through this pandemic," a press release said.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness released a statement following the announcement, saying he was unaware of the decision and is concerned about how some families will be able to handle the closures on such short notice:

"Neither my administration nor our health department were aware of HSE’s decision to move PK-6 education to 100% virtual learning. We have worked tirelessly to keep our schools open and have publicly stated that we believe schools should be open. In fact, today we intended to announce the opening of an additional COVID-19 testing site dedicated to any student or staff member at HSES that had been exposed. I am extremely concerned about the burden that this will cause parents with a mere 48-hour notice for closure. My commitment to our residents is that I will do all that we can to see our schools open again."

For families in need of child care, the Fishers YMCA will be offering an all-day care option at Riverside Intermediate School from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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