Return to school guidelines for Indiana districts

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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INDIANA (WNDU) -A closer return to normal school year start compared to a year ago is on the horizon, bringing a mixture of excitement and uncertainty.

“This is where we are today. We continue to watch the numbers of hospitalizations, vaccination rates, positivity rates, and we will continue to use data to guide any future decision,” explained Brandon White, Asst. Superintendent of Academics for South Bend Community Schools.

When SBCSC returns August 11th, White says they’re strongly encouraging unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask. South Bend Schools says vaccinated close contacts only quarantine if they show symptoms while unvaccinated close contacts would be asked to stay home.

Those testing positive are encouraged to isolate for 10 days. And per the state, students and staff don’t need a Covid-19 vaccine to return to school.

“Being in alignment with the St. Joe [County] Health Department, we are encouraging vaccination for those that are eligible, both our students and our staff. But at the end of the day, that is a personal decision or a parent’s decision to whether their child is vaccinated,” White stated.

Dr. Mark Fox, MD, with the St. Joseph County Health Department, explains why he advises eligible individuals to get vaccinated.

“I think that getting vaccinated is the safest way for us to get kids in school and have something resembling a normal school year. And if people aren’t willing or able to do that, we’re going to face many of the same challenges that we faced last year,” said Fox.

On August 12th, Elkhart Community Schools kicks off the school year. Masks will be optional in school buildings. Anyone testing positive isolates for 10 days. Like South Bend Schools, Elkhart does not require vaccinated close contacts to quarantine. But if someone has been exposed to the virus and is unvaccinated, the district has special guidelines, such as parents and guardians providing transportation for the student. Plus masks would have to be worn when around other people at school.

Per federal guidelines, masks must be worn on school buses, regardless vaccination status.

School City of Mishawaka officials were meeting Tuesday to discuss guidelines for the upcoming school year. PHM will present the district’s plan for a vote at the August 9th school board meeting.

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