Indiana has recommendations for K-12 schools in the fall and for Hoosiers visiting relatives who live in long-term care facilities. On Friday (June 5), Gov. Eric Holcomb and his administration answered questions about the state’s advice.
This week, state officials said schools could resume in-classroom instruction to start the 2020-21 school year, but districts must consider two factors. One is maintaining a safe and healthy school environment, and the other is prevalence of COVID-19 in the communities they represent.
It’s part of a 37-page plan released by the Indiana Dept. of Education this week.
Leaders with the Indiana Department of Health and the state’s office for social services said Friday the pandemic has created a stronger partnership between their offices and the state’s department of education to help schools stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Kristina Box, commissioner of the Indiana State Dept. of Health, said schools should work closely with their local health departments to assess what measures can be taken to keep students healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a “Decision Tree” to help schools decide how to handle the outbreak.
Schools are expected to have 180 days of instruction but could make adjustments to their instruction calendar if necessary due to local spikes in positive cases. This could include longer or shorter breaks, switching to eLearning days and possibly closing school buildings again.
Box said classrooms will have to set desks in a way that students could take off face masks, at least at times, during lessons. She added cafeterias might need to be addressed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and students who ride the bus might need assigned seating so if a student becomes sick, it will be easier to find the students who came in contact with a sick student.
Student-athletes could start training on school grounds on July 6 but with only 15 hours of training on campus a week. This would last until July 19, and it includes limiting sports to no more than two days of activities a week, which must be documented with the athletics office.
Holcomb extended the state’s health emergency for another 30 days this week. It also said schools could begin in-person classes starting July 1.
This week the state also lifted its ban on long-term care visitations, as long as visitors meet residents outside. Stipulations are the facility must have had zero new cases of the virus in the past 14 days among residents and staff, a facility must adapt a visitation schedule and have personnel available to assist residents making the move outside and wipe down visitation areas when visitors leave. Visitors are required to wear masks at all times and must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.