Carmel schools to remain open, library to close as Hamilton County COVID-19 metrics worsen


Organizations in Carmel reacted differently Jan. 6 to the Indiana Dept. of Health categorizing Hamilton County as red in its advisory level system for determining community spread of COVID-19. Red indicates the highest level of spread in a community.

Carmel Clay Schools plans to continue its existing offerings, with elementary students able to choose to attend school in person or virtually and middle and high school students choosing a hybrid model of in-person and virtual schooling or fully virtual classes.

CCS Director of Community Relations Emily Bauer said district leaders confirmed with county health officials the afternoon of Jan. 6 that their operation plan will still work with the county classified as red. She said details regarding attendance at sporting events and extracurricular activities are still to be determined.

Soon after the state changed the county’s advisory level, the Carmel Clay Public Library announced it would close both of its locations to in-person visits until further notice beginning Jan. 7. Curbside holds pickup will remain available. Patrons may place holds on materials through the online catalog at Outside return slots will remain available, but overdue fines will not be charged for the immediate future.

The switch from orange to red on the advisory scale brought additional restrictions for the county.

The state is requiring that counties categorized as red:

  • Limit social gatherings to 25 people, with no exceptions from the local health department
  • Limit attendance at recreational sporting events to participants, required personnel, parents, guardians, siblings, spouses and minor children of participants or personnel
  • Allow for indoor dining but encourage businesses to promote curbside pick-up or online ordering
  • Suggest K-12 school officials review and reevaluate their plans based on the recommendations of the Dept. of Education and IDOH
  • Suspend activities at senior centers
  • Allow hospitals, long term care and other congregate settings to impose visitation limits.

Counties designated as red have 200 or more weekly cases per 100,000 residents and a seven-day all-test positivity rate of 15 percent or greater.

“Unfortunately, the new designation doesn’t come as a huge surprise,” stated Jason LeMaster, interim administrator for the Hamilton County Health Dept. in a press release. “Our local positivity rate has been fluctuating near the 15 percent threshold for days and we’re only just now seeing the swell of cases from over the holiday season.”

The county must meet orange level metrics for two consecutive weeks before it can return to that designation. Counties classified as orange have a weekly COVID-19 caseload of 100 to 199 per 100,000 residents and a seven-day all-test positivity rate of 10 to 14.9 percent.

“That means Hamilton County will remain in RED for at least the next three weeks.” LeMaster stated. “The only way we can reverse course is to lower our numbers, so we’re asking the community to be incredibly vigilant. Wash your hands. Social distance. Avoid indoor gatherings and get tested if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. We all have the power to right this ship.”

See the state’s COVID-19 dashboard and designations for all counties at