Indiana announces considerations to return to school in Fall

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Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus Resources from the CDC

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WEHT) – The Indiana Department of Education has released 2020-2021 school year COVID-19 reentry considerations.

The considerations detail many aspects of returning to schools including the recommendation that all staff and students wear cloth face coverings according to CDC guidelines. Frequent hand-washing, additional cleaning, and social distancing should be enforced.

Additionally, the guidance laid out a number of ways schools should proceed to focus on prevention. Each school/district will work with the local health departments to decide the best plan for them.

IN-CLASS CONSIDERATIONS

Review optional educational programming for alternatives that meet the needs of all
students:

● Schedule specified groups of students to attend in-person school on alternate
days or half days to minimize the number of students in the building. Those
students not attending in-person should be expected to engage in
remote/continuous learning.
● Consider year-round schooling with alternating breaks to minimize the numbers
of students in the building at any time.
● Provide in-person instruction to elementary students and increase distance
learning opportunities for secondary grade levels.
● Offer both in-person and remote instruction based on student need and parent
concerns.

Review course sizes, structure, and classrooms to decrease infection:
● Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the
same group of children stay with the same staff as much as possible.
● Close communal use spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds if possible.
Otherwise, stagger use and disinfect in between use.
● Reorganize P.E., choir, band, orchestra, and other large classes to allow for
smaller classes, social distancing, and other precautions.
● Eliminate or reorganize assemblies, field trips, registrations, orientations,
round-ups, and other large gatherings to allow for social distancing.
● Alternate recess to minimize the number of students on the playground,
encourage social distancing, and allow time to disinfect equipment between
uses.
● Increase space between students during in-person instruction.
● Move classes outdoors whenever possible.
● Rearrange desks to increase space between students.
● Face desks in the same direction.
● Require students to remain seated in the classroom and assign seats.
● Eliminate activities that combine classes or grade levels.
● Eliminate or minimize whole staff gatherings/meetings.
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● Eliminate or minimize students traveling to different buildings to receive
services.
● Eliminate or minimize employees traveling between buildings.
● Consider broadcasting in-class instruction to multiple locations to allow students
to spread out and/or learn from home.
● Consider a homeroom stay-in-place system where teachers rotate, as opposed
to the students changing classrooms.
● Limit or eliminate classroom visitors.
● Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high touch materials to the
extent possible (art supplies, equipment, etc. assigned to a single child) or limit
use of supplies and equipment by one group of children at a time and clean and
disinfect between uses.
● Avoid or minimize the sharing of electronic devices, toys, books, art supplies, and
other games or learning aids when possible.
● Discourage the use of attendance awards or perfect attendance incentives for
students.

HEALTH PROTOCOL FOR SCHOOLS

Additionally, the guidance discussed protocols on what to do if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 or exhibits symptoms. State statute gives public school districts the authority to exclude students who have a contagious disease such as COVID-19 or are liable to transmit it after exposure.

Return to School After Exclusion
Once a student or employee is excluded from the school environment, they may return if they
satisfy the recommendations of the CDC. Currently those guidelines are:

Untested
Persons who have not received a test proving or disproving the presence of COVID-19
but experience symptoms may return if the following three conditions are met:
● They have not had a fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever
without the use of medicine that reduces fevers); and
● Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of
breath have improved); and
● At least 10 calendar days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
● The state website has a list of over 200 testing facilities, their location, and hours
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of operation. This list is updated frequently.

Tested Positive- Symptomatic
Persons who experienced symptoms and have been tested for COVID-19 may return to
school if the following conditions are met:
● The individual no longer has a fever (without the use medicine that reduces
fevers); and
● Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of
breath have improved); and
● At least 10 calendar days have passed since symptoms first appeared; or
● The individual has received two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Tested Positive- Asymptomatic
Persons who have not had symptoms but test positive for COVID-19 may return when
they have gone ten calendar days without symptoms and have been released by a
healthcare provider. Students may also return if they are approved to do so in writing by
the student’s health care provider.

Students and employees should be trained to recognize the following COVID-19-related
symptoms:

● A fever of 100.4° F or greater
● Cough
● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
● Chills
● Repeated shaking with chills
● Muscle pain
● Headache
● Sore throat
● New loss of taste or smell

Screening
The current CDC guidelines recommend screening all students and employees for COVID-19
symptoms and history of exposure. Screening can consist of self-screening, school-based
screening, and/or medical inquiries. The type and extent of screening is at the discretion of the
district/school.

“We are preparing plans across the spectrum,” said Brad Schneider, Superintendent of the Warrick Co. School Corp.

“They’re trying to keep everyone safe,” adds John Scioldo, Superintendent of Tell City-Troy Township Schools.

The guidelines also discussed protocols for extra-curricular activities, meal services, special education considerations, and transportation to and from school.

“We need to be consistent so that a student understands what we expect them to do, whether it’s at the elementary school level, the high school level,” says Scioldo.

Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says schools will work with local health departments on best plan for each school, and Governor Eric Holcomb said level of infection may cause some schools to do more virtual learning next school year. Some superintendents say one challenge will be with school buses, where considerations include physically distancing students and adding more routes.

“On a lot of our routes, elementary kids, we have three kids to a seat, two high school kids to a seat. That’s going to consider, it’s going to cause us a lot of considerations as to what bussing and transportation is going to look like,” says Schneider.

Superintendents say they’re also trying to figure out how to have enough protective equipment and the cost of implementing those guidelines.

EVSC officials say they’re reviewing the considerations from the state, but are still following guidance from state and local health officials to ensure safety of the community.

To view the complete IN-CLASS reentry considerations, visit: www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/news/june-5-class-document.pdf.

For more information on IDOE’s commitment to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, including up-to-date resources, please visit: www.doe.in.gov/covid-19.

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.

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