Coronavirus: High Schools Adjust Graduation, Reduced Traffic Volume Saved Indiana Money

May 27, 2020

Schools across Indiana are doing what they can to celebrate seniors and the graduating class of 2020, including distributing or creating signs for people to post in their yards and communities.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 18 additional confirmed deaths Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,850. The state announced more than 32,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 230,000 Hoosiers tested.

How Do You Celebrate Graduates In 2020? Here's How These High Schools Are Doing It

Many parents and students have voiced concerns about celebrations for high school seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools across the state are each taking a unique approach to celebrate their graduates.

Some high schools are planning somewhat traditional graduation ceremonies, just later this summer, while others are hosting virtual ones. 

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation is taking a sort of hybrid approach: they've planned a "memorable experience" route for seniors to drive up to, with several stops to take photos and celebrate their success – in addition to the virtual commencement ceremonies planned. 

The route includes a stage to walk across, and a take-home souvenir based on the long-standing tradition of seniors ringing a bell upon completion of their final school project at one of the high schools. 

Summer Jobs May Be Elusive For Teens This Year

As the school year ends and summer begins, it’s traditionally a time when teenagers get summer jobs. But there may be fewer Hoosier teens employed this summer due to the global pandemic.

While the national unemployment rate jumped last month, the unemployment rate for teenagers more than doubled to reach just shy of 32 percent. That’s largely because teens frequently take jobs in the hospitality and service industry – some of the industries hardest hit by COVID-19. 

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Erika Cheney is the director of in-school youth services for EmployIndy, Marion County’s workforce board. She says many parents, including herself, are hesitant to let their teenager work because they worry about their safety during the pandemic. 

Reduced Traffic During 'Stay-At-Home' Saved Indiana Money

Indiana saw a reduction in daily traffic volume of as much as 57 percent during the “Stay-At-Home” period.

And while traffic is returning to normal, that earlier reduction helped save the state millions of dollars.

The number of motorists on Hoosier roadways fell the most on weekends during the “Stay-At-Home” order. Weekday traffic was 30 to 40 percent lower than usual during April.

And Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness says that reduction allowed the state to adjust construction schedules, extending work hours – such as on a shutdown of Interstate-70 in Indianapolis.

U.S. Sen. Todd Young Visits Small Businesses, Advocates For Additional Lending Program

Small businesses are still struggling despite federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) is advocating for a bill he helped create that would provide additional help to small business owners financially hit by the pandemic.

The RESTART Act proposes extending the time businesses have to use the PPP loan from eight to 16 weeks and creates a new lending program to be a bridge while businesses get back up and fully running.

Young says while the PPP loan helped businesses during the shutdown, his bipartisan bill responds to the pandemic lasting longer than expected.

Researchers Explore Causes Behind COVID-19 Disparities In Marion County

New SAVI research from the Polis Center at IUPUI digs into the reasons why black residents in Marion County are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The reasons are rooted in systemic racism, historic inequities and social factors.

The rates of COVID-19 infections in Indianapolis’ black communities are nearly twice that of whites. The SAVI data focuses on three factors that play into this disparity.

Casinos Must Submit COVID-19 Health, Safety Plans Before Reopening

It will likely be weeks before Indiana casinos are allowed to reopen as the state moves forward with its plans for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

And the Indiana Gaming Commission issued standards to the state’s wagering facilities for a limited initial reopening.

Those guidelines include reduced occupancy – likely around 50 percent capacity.

The standards also require social distancing of at least six feet for all patrons who aren’t traveling together. And the commission says casinos must use enough security or employees to enforce those policies. Guests coming into the casinos may also have to undergo temperature checks.

Purdue Trustees Approve Plans For Classroom Distancing, Protect Purdue Pledge

Policies approved by Purdue University’s Board of Trustees Tuesday will broaden the scope of online coursework available for students not returning to campus this fall, and reduce the number of students in classrooms for those who plan to attend in person. 

The student capacity of smaller classrooms will be reduced by about half, while larger-scale classes will contain no more than 150 learners. A minimum of 10 feet will lie between the students and the instructor, who will have access to a “mobile Plexiglas barrier.” Distance will also be addressed in student living spaces, where a per-person allotment of at least 113 square feet will allow for six feet of distance – and when sleeping, a separation of at least 10 feet. 

Another plan approved Tuesday calls for a “definitional framework” to determine the members of the Purdue community most at risk from a COVID-19 diagnosis, and what accommodations they might require.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.