COVID-19 updates: Schools go virtual; Deaths top 5k; Officials look for upcoming red designation

Area school districts are making the decision to suspend in-person classes through the start of next year.

Bartholomew Consolidated School officials said the decision not to return to in-person classes until at least January 5th was made in consultation with medical professionals and the Bartholomew and Columbus COVID-19 Community Task force.

School officials said they would be monitoring local COVID-19 data and make adjustments as necessary.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools also made the announcement that they would be continuing e-learning after the Thanksgiving break and would evaluate the community spread, as well as tracking close contacts and positive cases in the school district to inform any future changes.

The northeastern Bartholomew County school district plans to return to in-person classes on Jan. 5th.


More than 5,000 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19.

The grim milestone was reached Sunday when the Indiana State Department of Health announced 48 more coronavirus deaths in the Hoosier state. The deaths happened between October 29th and November 21st.

More than 3,100 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Indiana. The Department of Health announced 6,255 new cases yesterday, for a total of 295,357 since the pandemic began. The state’s 7-day all-test positivity rate is nearing 12 percent.

Bartholomew County reported 75 new cases yesterday and a 7-day positivity rate of 11.25 percent. In area counties, Decatur had 12 new cases, Jennings 16, Jackson 47, Brown 7, Johnson 159, and Shelby 42. There were no new deaths reported in our area.


Bartholomew County continues as orange on the Indiana State Department of Health’s color-coded map of COVID-19 spread, but local officials expect and fear that the county will tip over into the red category soon.

Orange indicates serious spread of the disease in a community, while the red category indicates a severe spread.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop says local officials are keeping a close eye on the numbers.

Should the county switch to red, further restrictions would go into place including limits on social gatherings to 25 people instead of the current 50.

Brown and Decatur counties are both listed as red already by the state, while other surrounding counties remain in the orange.

Dr. Brian Niedbalski, the Bartholomew County health officer, put new restrictions into place on Saturday afternoon.