IPS releases COVID-19 protocols for 2021-22 school year; masks required for unvaccinated students

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Public Schools will require unvaccinated students to wear masks and will maintain seating charts as part of its COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-2022 school year.

IPS says the protocols were created based on updated guidance from the Marion County Public Health Department, the Indiana State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are are subject to change based on new guidance.

Face Masks

IPS recommends that all staff and students wear a mask while indoors, but vaccinated students and staff can opt out of wearing face masks by voluntarily providing proof of vaccination status.

Unvaccinated students are required to wear a face mask except when eating and drinking during their lunch period. 

Masks are required on IPS buses for all students, staff and drivers, regardless of vaccination status. IPS says this is a federal Transportation Security Administration mandate.

Social Distancing — Classrooms/Cafeterias/Buses

IPS says schools will continue to cohort students as much as possible and practice social distancing of three feet when possible. Students will be able to eat in school cafeterias but will have assigned seating.

Contract Tracing/Quarantine 

IPS says its COVID-19 dashboard on the district website will track positive cases throughout the district, and schools will notify families and staff of any positive cases at their location. Seating charts will be maintained in all classrooms, cafeterias and school buses so that contact tracing can be conducted.

Contact tracing and quarantine procedures will be followed for those who have been in close contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. Vaccinated students and staff members who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine. A symptomatic staff or student without a positive exposure to COVID will require a negative PCR test or a release from a medical provider to return.

Close contact is defined as being within three feet of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more. Quarantine periods will expire after 14 days post exposure.

COVID-19 Symptoms Checklist

The following are the COVID-19 symptoms parents and staff should check each morning before attending school or work. Those who have these symptoms should stay home.

  • Fever/Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle/Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of Taste/Smell
  • Sore Throat
  • Sinus Congestion

Student Quarantines & Learning

Students who must quarantine due to COVID-19 will receive classwork from their individual teachers via Schoology. While in quarantine, students are expected to complete classwork via their school-issued device. 

Cleaning/Sanitizing/Hygiene & PPE

IPS says all high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized frequently in school and office buildings and on buses. Hand sanitizer will continue to be available, and IPS will stock disposable masks for emergency use in schools and on buses. Proper hand washing, cough and sneeze protocols are required. IPS noted that no-touch water bottle filling stations available in schools.

Visitors & Volunteers

All visitors, including parents, guardians, community partners and volunteers, are required for to wear masks while indoors regardless of vaccination status. If outdoors, masks are required only if social distancing is not possible. 

Visitors and volunteers will be asked to conduct a symptom check before entering a school building and will not be permitted to eat with students or staff during breakfast or lunch.

PE & Recess

If socially distanced, students and staff can remove masks during active play both indoors and outdoors regardless of vaccination status. During inside recess and PE, unvaccinated students not actively participating should wear their masks.

Athletics & Extracurriculars

Student athletes are not required to wear masks during practice and games. 

Band, orchestra and choir groups must limit the duration of practice and performance to no more than 45 minutes. Bands and orchestras must be socially distanced between string and percussion instruments (with face masks if not vaccinated), and wind instruments (without masks). Choirs must maintain social distancing and wear face masks if not vaccinated.

Public attendance at games and extracurricular performances is allowed. IPS says it will consider these public events and follow county health department guidance of asking attendees to wear masks if they are not vaccinated.  

Vaccination

IPS says for ages 12 and older, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is currently the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus. COVID-vaccine sites are conveniently located throughout the community. IPS says it will continue to host vaccination clinics throughout the school year. Dates, times and locations will be provided on the district website and via district communication to families and staff.

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