At a school board meeting on December 15, 2020, School Board President Wade Beatty, of Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation (Knightstown, Indiana), revealed the primary reason the public school is continuing to ban in-person instruction. According to publicly-available audio of the November & December meetings, Beatty claims that keeping COVID-19 from elderly relatives of students is enough of a justification to continue closures.
In response to questions regarding the data that suggests open schools are safe for students, Superintendent Jediah Behny suggested that “the science” says otherwise—that reopening would impact the community negatively.
A local teacher responded with concerns:
“We know this is hurting them, suicide rates, depression, anxiety, we know this is actively hurting them, and we continue to make the decision to ‘Well…’,”
President Beatty interrupted:
“No, we’re making the decision based on that. You’re right. Kids don’t get affected like adults do. The problem is, they have to go home to those grandparents and those parents, who would be affected by it, and if one of them loses a grandparent because they tested COVID at the school from some other kid, and took it home and their grandparent died, what kind of disastrous, emotional catastrophe is that?”
Teachers argued that the decision should rest with the parents to send their students to school or keep them home, but the school board continued with its resolution.
In contrast, the school board has approved in-person extra-curricular activities and athletics to meet on campus, including studying & tutoring groups. Nonetheless, it will continue its closure until at least January 19. It should be noted that Governor Holcomb of Indiana has announced that public schools should be encouraged to open as soon as January 4, and the Henry County health department has released no mandate on whether local schools should remain closed or open. The American Academy of Pediatrics still affirms that it is safe to open schools with necessary steps like sanitaion and social distancing.
Currently, teachers are required to remain in classrooms daily for instruction, educating local students virtually.
NOTE: Indiana Law states that all recordings of Public School Board Meetings are to be kept available, unedited, for informed access of the public. HIPPA and COPPA were maintained in the preparation of this report.