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Face masks, playground closures, and alternating days of instruction for different groups of students are among the measures schools are asked to consider as they build out plans to reopen school buildings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new guidance released by the Indiana Department of Education.  

IDOE released this morning a 38-page re-entry document (see here june-5-class-document)

Per Governor Holcomb’s executive order, Indiana schools are allowed to reopen on July 1. However, the state is leaving the decision for fall classes and sports to locals schools. 

The guidance makes a series of recommendations to schools but does not mandate any policy changes.

Instead, it details a number of measures for school leaders to consider, while leaving final decisions up to the schools. 

Administrators are asked to work with their local health
departments to assess the school’s ability to implement the necessary health and safety measures required to prevent the spread of disease.

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.

“The health and safety of Hoosier students, school staff, and communities is priority one. Providing students with a quality education is critical and therefore it is crucial we offer considerations focused on getting students back in the classroom in a safe manner,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick.

“Considering the many unknowns associated with COVID-19, we also recognize the importance of alternative learning opportunities. We appreciate the thoughtful and collaborative spirit in which IN-CLASS was developed.”

School buildings have been closed since mid-March and will remain that way through June 30. 

Proms and graduations have been postponed and sometimes canceled around the state as administrators struggle to find a way to keep students and staff safe. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered school buildings to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus, is expected to address the reopening of schools during his regular press conference Friday afternoon at 2:30p. 

You can listen to the LIVE address on WSLM 97.9 FM and WSLM 1220 AM as well as the station’s social media pages. 

Holcomb has said that he’s convinced that the state’s schools will be able to reopen safely, but there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

One of the big questions surrounding a return to school is fall sports. 

According to the Indiana High School Athletic Association, sports practices can begin on July 1. 

The IDOE released the following guidance for fall sports. 

Indiana’s Athletics/Physical Education Re-entry Considerations

Phase I:  The Safe Return of Student-Athletes, Coaches, and Medical Staff.  (July 1)

Administrative Practices 

  • Establish an alternate command structure for the coaching staff. 
  • Athletes or staff showing any illness (fevers, cold symptoms, stomach issues etc.) must be symptom-free for 72 hours and have a negative COVID-19 test 
  • Follow specific return to school protocol in reference to participation for student-athletes, coaches or support staff members that no longer test positive for COVID-19. See Appendix A, Reference Return to School After Exclusion
  • Liability Waiver for participation for coaches and athletes signed by parents.
  • IHSAA’s guidance: Effective immediately, valid physical and consent forms presented to member schools on behalf of eligible students during the 2019-2020 school year shall be valid during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
  • IHSAA guidance for opening and summer activities: https://ihsaa.org/Portals/0/ihsaa/documents/news%20media/2019-20/050620.pdf?ver=2020-05-06-155818-543  

 

Facilities and Equipment 

  • Provide PPE for coaching staff and athletic trainers. 
  • Clean and disinfect all athletic facilities. 
  • Limit the number of people in the weight room at one time to accommodate appropriate social distancing. 
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and high-touch surfaces (including door handles) in weight rooms after use.
  • Clean and disinfect locker rooms after each use. 
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and high-touch surfaces (including door handles) in athletic training facilities after use.
  • If appropriate, encourage students to change clothing at home before and after practices/games.
  • Showering is acceptable, however, reducing the number of students in the locker room to address social distancing is encouraged. 
  • The use of school swimming pools is acceptable, however, schools should take necessary steps to promote health and safety. 
    • State and local guidelines that may determine when and how recreational water facilities may operate should be followed.
    • Individuals should continue to protect themselves and others at recreational water venues both in and out of the water (e.g. practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene.)

Practices and Games

  • Institute temperature checks before all organized team activities.
  • In an effort to meet hydration needs for all athletes, provide individual, labeled water bottles or disposable cups for all student-athletes and coaches. 
  • Implement social distancing whenever possible. See Appendix B
  • Consider scheduling adjustments to reduce event duration. 
  • Reduce celebratory contact through hugs, high-fives etc. 
  • Enforce daily practice gear sanitization.  
  • Disinfect equipment after each use.
  • Limit number of spectators, athletes, and staff to the number approved by the health department at the time of the competition
  • Prohibit spectators at practices.

Prior to the start of this fall, schools will need to review these plans with their local health departments. 

WSLM will be reviewing plans for re-opening with local school in additional stories.