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Evansville Parents React to New COVID-19 Guidelines for Classrooms

Changes in Hoosier classrooms are causing controversy. Starting Monday, Feb. 8th, Indiana schools will reduce the amount of feet students have to be apart and lessen the requirements for contact tracing. Schools will also be receiving personal protective equipment to help combat the virus.

Posted: Feb 7, 2021 10:16 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2021 10:28 AM

Starting Monday, Hoosier students can technically stay three feet apart from each other instead of six -- as long as they are masked up.

It’s something many schools have been doing anyway due to lack of space for socially distancing in buildings.

The decision was based on state and national data that only 3% to 5% of COVID-19 cases are transmitted in schools.

"One school district in Southern Indiana reported that nearly 98% of more than 1,900 students who were quarantined never became ill,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box during Governor Eric Holcomb's briefing on Wednesday, Feb. 3rd. “And nearly 3/4 of staff quarantines were due to exposures that occurred outside of the school setting."

Another new rule is reducing the number of days students or teachers must quarantine.

Box said that while 14 days is considered the safest timeline for students to quarantine before returning to the classroom, they can now come back after 10 days if they have not developed symptoms.

"Another option is to allow a student or teacher to return to school after seven days,” Dr. Box said. “If their PCR -- so golden standard nasal swab on day five, six, or seven, or an antigen test which could be the BinaxNOW card -- upon return to school on day eight is negative."

And while contact tracing will no longer be required in the classrooms -- where students are masked up -- it will still apply during lunchtime, athletics, choir, or any school setting where a teacher or student may have removed their mask.

For Joe Notter, who has one daughter in pre-school and another in kindergarten at EVSC, he is understanding of the changes -- realizing it’s difficult for schools to completely control the virus.

"Honestly -- a five -year- old you know, are they always six feet apart -- you've got to question that,” he said. “Especially when there’s recess."

Now across the state --each school is receiving 120 rapid COVID-19 tests and while it may alleviate the stress for some parents -- for others -- they aren't sure if it is the right move.

"Obviously I don't necessarily want somebody giving my daughter a test without my permission or without my understanding of the situation,” Notter said. “It's not very difficult for me to take my child to the doctor. But you know it's a convenience factor and maybe some other families aren't as fortunate to do that."

The state is also sending 1M KN95 masks to school and at EVSC, it’s a true blessing.

"Obviously when we hear the governor -- the Department of Health talk about an increase to materials that are going to help supplies, that are going to help to enhance safety for students -- for staff -- of course we are very excited about that,” said EVSC chief communication officer Jason Woebkenberg.

"We hope that these steps will help to decrease the disruption that COVID-19 continues to cause in our educational system,” Dr. Box said. “And lead to quicker isolation of positive individuals -- which will reduce the spread of the virus."

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