Indiana schools review new COVID-19 guidance from state, on-site testing

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INDIANAPOLISOn-site COVID testing and updated social distance guidelines are just two of the new recommendations that could impact your child’s school district starting next week.

The state announced Wednesday the updates to the guidelines and, as we found out, many schools are wanting more clarifications as to how this will all work.

“We will be making the following changes effective Monday,” stated Dr. Kristina Box, the State Health Commissioner during the weekly Governor briefing.

Dr. Box made the announcement about the new quarantine and social distancing rules, and coming soon, on-site COVID-19 testing at Indiana schools.

“If the student or teacher is positive, the school will know immediately,” said Dr. Box, “We will be providing BinaxNOW antigen test cards to schools to help them test symptomatic students and teachers in this package. These tests require a nasal swab that is applied to a card.”

Districts, like Beech Grove City Schools got to work right away. Superintendent Dr. Paul Kaiser calls it a step forward.

“The state of Indiana is pretty much saying schools are safe,” said Kaiser, “We’re going to go back and look at our own individualized data and see if it matches up with what the state data has been before we finalize our next steps in the process.”

Starting Monday, schools are no longer required to quarantine if someone is exposed in the classroom, if they kept three feet socially distant and wore a mask.

Although a 14-day quarantine is still the safest, Dr. Box said students can return after 10 days if they’ve not developed symptoms. A student can return after seven days if they are tested and are negative in the days leading up to returning.

Elementary school Principal, Erin Probus says they’re doing everything they can.

“We have tried to stay very true to that three-to-six feet window of safe recommendation, now I say that with a disclaimer of that kindergartners don’t have the strongest body awareness,” said Probus, “We want to be safe and we want to be in a setting where we can love and take care of our children.”

It is up to each school corporation and their administration to consider whether they will adopt the guidance.  

We contacted more than a dozen schools in Central Indiana who told us they’re having important conversations Thursday and Friday to update COVID-19 policies.

We also received a few statements from the following districts:

“Cathedral High School is assessing all of the information that the Governor announced yesterday. In the meantime, we will continue to follow our COVID response plan that includes  strict social distancing guidelines, face masks, hand sanitizing, and frequent disinfection of surfaces.”

Cathedral High School

“Whenever the state updates guidance, we have multiple conversations with the Hendricks County Health Department, neighboring districts, and our team before we adjust our guidelines. Then, once any updates are adopted, we communicate to district leadership, staff members, and families.”

Avon Community Schools

“The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation is thoroughly reviewing the information from Governor Holcomb and Dr. Box’s announcement on February 3. We are waiting for guidance from our Hancock County Health Department before any changes to our Health & Safety Plan are made.” 

Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation

“We want to be safe and we want to be in a setting where we can love and take care of our children,” Probus added.

To assist during this time, the Indiana School Board Association has helped pass along guidance for its membership. Since March 2020, the ISBA created a ‘Coronavirus Resource Guide’. The organization has distributed the guide on almost a weekly basis.

Dr. Box said that schools will soon receive more guidance on the rapid testing. The state also plans to send out more than one million KN95 masks to schools and child-sized masks.

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