Parents and Guardians,
COVID-19 has been a challenge for schools across the country. The State Health Department is constantly analyzing best practices on how to overcome some of the challenges we face on a daily basis. As many of you know, the return to school plan has seen revisions throughout the school year, and will continue to see changes as new information and guidance is given to schools. On Wednesday, February 2, 2021, the Indiana Department of Health updated their guidelines based on the most recent data.
Local and statewide data continues to suggest there is a low risk of COVID-19 spread in the traditional school setting if safety protocols are followed. However, we have seen a direct impact on student achievement in the classroom due to student absences in relationship to quarantine time.
Therefore, with the recent information from the Indiana State Health Department and in discussion, and support of Dr. Scott Frede, Switzerland County Health Officer, we have made the decision to no longer require students to quarantine if they are considered a close contact, unless under 3 feet more than 15 minutes, provided face coverings are properly worn (covering both mouth and nose), and all COVID-19 re-entry guidelines are being implemented. Differently from the state guideline, we will continue to contact trace and notify parents of any close contact within the school setting. As a parent, you may choose to continue to quarantine your student. Simply let your child’s school know they will be quarantined. The school will then provide you a return date.
Details of the updated conditions are listed below:
- The Indiana Health Department is adjusting our definition of a close contact in a classroom setting only.
- Beginning Monday, we will no longer require schools to quarantine if the students and staff are socially distanced at least three feet and are wearing a mask at all times. This change does not apply to lunch, athletics, band, orchestra, choir or any other school setting where students may gather, nor does it apply to classrooms in which students have been allowed to remove their masks.
- Students within 0-3 feet longer than 15 minutes are still required to quarantine.
- Students 3 to 6 feet, longer than 15 minutes, with both students properly wearing face coverings (covering both mouth AND nose ), only the student who is positive will be required to quarantine.
- Students greater than 6 feet are not required to quarantine.
- Please note, bus riders who share a seat will be required to quarantine. Those in seats around a positive person, more than 3 feet and wearing a face covering will NOT be required to quarantine.
- In the academic setting, parties must properly wear face coverings while in close contact (3 feet to 6 feet) with a positive person at school, to meet the guideline to not be required to quarantine.
- Grades K-2 are NOT required to wear face coverings. If they are in contact with a known positive person at school without a face covering, they will continue to be required to quarantine per our current guidelines.
- If a student is deemed a close contact during a sport, band, choir, or lunch they will still be required to quarantine. They may return to the standard academic day after 10 days and wear their mask during extra curricular activities, or wait the 14 day period to be fully cleared. They may not participate in extracurricular activities without a mask on day 11, 12, 13, or 14 unless they wear a mask during the activity per the IHSAA.
- The IHSAA is also requiring positive student-athletes to quarantine for 10 days, when they return on day 11, they must remain separated from the team to work on individual skills and/or training until cleared by their local health care provider.
- For all non-sports extracurricular activities, students may not attend/participate for 10 days and may return to full participation on day 11 if able to wear a face covering.
- Switzerland County School Corporation will continue to quarantine close contacts from school and extracurricular activities under two circumstances:
- If masks were not worn or worn properly when in contact or if any guidelines were not followed.
- If the person begins experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Students identified as close contacts outside of the supervised and structured academic day will be required to follow previously established close contact quarantine guidelines:
- It is recommended, but not required to be tested:
- If contact is outside of the academic setting students may quarantine 14 days.
- The second option to return 10 days after exposure wearing a face covering on day 11 if untested and no symptoms arise is still permitted.
- If a student has tested positive for COVID-19, with documentation, in the previous 90 days of close contact exposure, they are not required to quarantine.
Please remember if a student/staff member, or member of the household is being tested for COVID-19 all members of the house must quarantine until results are obtained.
In addition to quarantine rules, schools may now use BinaxNow cards to test symptomatic teachers, staff and students (with parental consent) to more quickly isolate positive individuals and begin contact tracing.
- Schools that choose to use BinaxNow cards will need to complete training and agree to comply with our CLIA waiver.
Dr. Box announced the IDOH will continue to support the CDCs recommendations for quarantine. CDC and the IDOH recommend the 14-day quarantine as the safest option, because it reduces the chance of post quarantine transmission to 0.1%. However, IDOH also supports this additional CDC option for the schools to choose.
As before, if a student is required or chooses to quarantine, all work will continue to be provided online during the quarantine period.
The goal is to keep our students in the classroom when precautions have been taken. Please contact your student’s school nurse or principal with questions.
If there is an increase in school based positive cases during the second semester, we may need to implement the previously established quarantine methods. We will continue to use best practice precautions by wearing face coverings, washing hands, sanitizing, and social distancing when possible.
Thank you for your continued support,
Mr. Rod Hite, Superintendent Dr. Scott Frede, Health Officer
Switzerland County School Corporation Switzerland County Health Department