State health officials release new ‘color-coded’ recommendations for Indiana schools to review

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INDIANAPOLIS – Schools are reviewing new color-coded recommendations from the state. The Indiana State Health Department (ISDH) designed it to help guide schools during this pandemic, however, some superintendents aren’t convinced.

While Indiana students are learning schools are taking operations day by day and the State Health Department wants to give better clarity.

“The goal is to provide an easy to understand system,” said Dr. Kristina Box, the State Health Commissioner.

On Wednesday, Dr. Box announced a new system.

“We’ve developed a new color-coded map that evaluates each county’s status based on three key metrics,” she added.

Each county is either blue, yellow, orange or red. The color indicates to schools how they should operate based on the number of new cases in the past week per 100,000 residents, percent positivity, and the change in percent positivity from the previous week.

“What I want to emphasize, is that these metrics change,” said Box, “A county that’s in the red today won’t necessarily stay there if people take the right steps and contact tracing is successful.”

“So, how can we rely on the data?” asked Superintendent Paul Kaiser of Beech Grove City Schools.

Kaiser has some doubts. Since opening on July 31, there have been two cases of COVID-19 in his district.

“We’re less than .05 percent of our student body has had COVID, so that’s the most important metric to me to look at,” Kaiser added, “What I can control is that we wear our Hornet mask, it’s attached to my lanyard. Our Kindergarten kids are doing a great job wearing masks, our teachers are doing a great job with their shields, masks and protections.”

He believes the data used for the color-coded system won’t be accurate.

“The concept behind that is really good. It keeps our community informed, if the data was accurate – but I have no confidence in that the data on those charts are going to be accurate,” said Kaiser.

He plans to continue to follow guidance from the Marion County Health Department, even if that means changing course.

“Our focus is going to be on Beech Grove City Schools and what we can do for our kids and our community,” he added.

We reached out to a number of central Indiana school districts about the color coding and most told us they need time to decide if will impact current plans.

To see other guidelines for Indiana schools, click here.

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