INDIANAPOLIS– The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) released the 2020-2021 school year COVID-19 reentry considerations on Friday.
Indiana’s Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools (IN-CLASS) was developed in partnership with the Governor’s office, the Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the Indiana High School Athletic Association and IDOE’s Reentry Advisory Group, comprised of practitioners and professional organizations.
“The health and safety of Hoosier students, school staff, and communities is priority one. Providing students with a quality education is critical and therefore it is crucial we offer considerations focused on getting students back in the classroom in a safe manner,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick.
As schools are allowed to reopen on July 1, IDOE said districts must understand their schools’ ability to maintain a safe and healthy environment and prevalence of COVID-19 in their community.
“We believe right now schools can and should open for instruction and we would not have made that decision or endorsed the proposal to go forward otherwise,” said Governor Eric Holcomb during his press briefing on Friday.
In a nearly 40-page document, IDOE said districts should plan for 180 days of instruction, whether that’s online, virtual or both. It addresses social distancing inside the school such as allowing a smaller group of students to attend class in-person on alternate days to minimize the number of people in the building.
It encourages rearranging desks and eating meals in the classroom instead of cafeteria.
Dr. Kristina Box, State Health Commissioner, urged people to stay home if they are sick and especially if someone at home has COVID-19.
“Students when they are in groups like to go to the bathroom or to get their lunch or whatever that they do have their masks on but maybe while they are getting instruction and everyone is facing forward and the back of someone’s head take your mask off,” she said.
Several school districts told CBS4 they are still taking the time to review the new guidelines.
IDOE suggests they provide daily health reports to track reasons for absences. As for school buses, the guidelines say to assign students to a specific seat and consider adding additional routes.
“So we know if somebody is exposed or becomes COVID-19 positive who would have been sitting around them to be able to contact and investigate further,” Dr. Box explained.
IDOE said not all schools will be able to address or implement all of these considerations and they expect to continue to revise these guidelines.