ANDERSON, Ind. – We’re only a few days into the school year for some students, and already multiple Indiana districts are reporting dozens of students in quarantine.
Anderson Community Schools reported 11 COVID-19 cases and 47 students total in quarantine as of last Friday, with those numbers expected to grow once the district releases this week’s numbers, according to Brad Meadows, district and community engagement director.
“It’s something we saw last school year,” Meadows said. “It’s something we expected, and we are prepared for it.”
It’s a similar story over at Clark-Pleasant Community Schools.
“We’re probably around 120 kids who have been involved in some manner of a quarantine,” said Patrick Spray, superintendent.
Both school officials said their districts says have made masks optional for everyone. But they both aren’t ruling out mask mandates or other restrictions in the future.
“We’re looking at it now this year – are we having some of our kids who are close contacts that then become positive?” Spray said. “And then the correlation there is, last year they had masks on, and so therefore we weren’t seeing that spread.”
A mask mandate for schools was issued in Illinois this week, but the same is not happening so far in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Health has not announced any new restrictions for schools.
“We definitely know that children benefit greatly from being in schools,” said Dr. John Christenson, medical director of infection prevention for Riley Hospital for Children. “But when you’re having outbreaks in the schools, the schools have to start quarantining children.”
Regardless of what your school district requires, Dr. Christenson recommends all children over age 2 wear a mask in public – and that includes the classroom.
“We need to go back to square one, right?” Dr. Christenson said. “All those strategies at the beginning of the pandemic that were shown to be effective at preventing the transmission, they need to be done.”
We reached out to the Indiana Department of Health to see if it’s changing its current policy, which allows each district to choose its own COVID-19 protocols. A spokesperson said the department recommends masks in schools and that decisions on restrictions are made at the local level.