Special to the Courier

Following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement that all school buildings in Indiana — both public and private — will be shut down through at least May 1 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Madison, Southwestern and Prince of PeaceCatholic schools issued a joint update Thursday on several changes related to their operation.

Local administrators had previously adopted a schedule to be closed in and around Spring Break at the three school systems with hopes that the extended leave would allow time for concerns over the coronavirus to subside. However, with increasing numbers of Hoosiers testing positive for COVID-19 daily — none so far in Jefferson County — the Governor issued a statewide mandate to close all schools the remainder of March and throughout April.

While there are several details yet to be determined, local school officials were able to release several changes that are known at this time.

Testing for the 2019-2020 school year has been canceled and further clarification has been received from the Governor’s office confirming that schools are to continue with their current plan and schedule of using Waiver Days and eLearning Days through at least May 1.

Specific details on individual classes that have requirements beyond normal curricular work that can be achieved through eLearning are still being determined at the state level, and further guidance from the Governor’s Office and Department of Education will be passed along as it is received. Each individual school corporation will communicate their continued educational plans for their schools before the end of Spring Break.

As of Friday, March 20, all school building offices and administration offices will be closed to the public. Staff will still be available by phone and email, should the need arise to contact school offices with requests.

The joint statement by Madison Superintendent Jeff Studebaker, Prince of Peace President Phil Kahn and Southwestern Superintendent Jeff Bates, said the school systems “appreciate your patience as we continue to navigate this unprecedented situation. We will be in touch with clarifying information after Spring Break. In the meantime, try to enjoy the time with your family, stay safe and healthy, and enjoy Spring Break.”

The closure also impacts Christian Academy of Madison and Canaan Academy.