Indiana schools update COVID-19 protocols following new mask, quarantine guidance


Pre-kindergarten students listen as their teacher reads a story at Dawes Elementary in Chicago, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Chicago Public Schools students began their return to the classroom Monday as school doors opened to thousands of pre-kindergarten and some special education students after going remote last March due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, Pool)

INDIANAPOLIS –  Our local schools are once again shifting their COVID-19 protocols in order to keep kids in the classroom. The latest guidance came from Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order announced on Wednesday.

And the Brownsburg Community School Corporation was quick to respond.

“I think the families who sent their students to school today are very happy they can come back and learn,” said Vicki Murphy, the Coordinator for Communications for Brownsburg schools.

In fact, close to 90 students who had previously been sent home to quarantine are back in class.

“Every situation is a little bit different,” Murphy added. “We’re going to try and figure out the best way to get their student back to school and safe – as soon as possible.”

Governor Holcomb’s latest executive order outlined changes to schools and day cares to help manage the spread of the virus:

  • Schools and day cares that have mask requirements that are consistently followed throughout the day do not have to quarantine students, teachers and staff who are close contacts and aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Schools and day cares must continue to contact trace by notifying their local health department as well as parents, teachers and staff who were in close contact.

“This is really the safest thing for your child, is to wear a mask,” said John Kunzer, the President of Community Physician Network and also a pediatrician.

Community Health Network sent a letter to more than 150 school superintendents outlining why universal mask usage is the smart thing to do. They listed these reasons below which follows the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control.

“Those less than age 12 aren’t vaccinated and so really at an increased risk of exposure and the old school thinking was – oh, kids can’t get sick with coronavirus, but with this new delta variant we have seen more kids getting sick and being exposed and needing to be hospitalized,” added Dr. Kunzer.

Local schools are acting on this latest guidance.

Since Noblesville Schools, Muncie Community Schools and Avon Community Schools already mandated masks they were able to update their protocols.

“We are thrilled with the governor’s new executive order,” said Muncie Community Schools Director of Public Education and CEO Lee Ann Kwiatkowski said in a press release. “This will allow our students to stay in school as long as they are symptom-free and keep up on their work. We’ve noticed that the vast majority of close contacts never develop symptoms or test positive, so we believe this is a huge step in the right direction.”

Same goes for MSD Washington Township. Asymptomatic students will return to class on Friday.

School leaders for districts across Central Indiana met Thursday with the ultimate goal of finding what’s best for the kids and how to keep them in-person.

We have learned that Mt. Vernon, Westfield Washington and MSD Wayne Township have now updated their guidance and students identified as a close contact in a masked setting, no longer has to quarantine.

Carmel-Clay schools is also following the guidance. Students who are currently quarantined due to an exposure at school are not COVID positive or symptomatic may return to school on Friday, September 3.

“Kids need it for their social, emotional development and of course, the education as well, and that’s where the masks help us ensure kids can stay in school,” said Dr. Kunzer.

Murphy added, “Everybody is doing their best to comply to keep everyone safe.”

Governor Holcomb’s latest executive order is now in effect through Sept. 30.

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