The Indiana Department of Health reported 1,683 hospitalizations and 900 new COVID-19 cases in its latest update, which is a steep decline.

And with that decline, schools around Indiana are looking at changing their mask requirements. 

Last night, Salem Community School voting to remove their mask requirements beginning early next week. 

Yesterday East Washington School Corporation moved to masks being optional, but strongly encouraged for students and staff.

Contact tracing and quarantines are greatly reduced for students and staff who are wearing masks and more than 3 feet apart, said Superintendent Dennis Stockade.

Contact tracing and quarantines are greatly increased for students and staff who are not wearing a mask and are less than 6 feet apart.

Masks are still required by federal law on school buses.

West Washington School Corporation pulled back their mask rules on Feb. 9.

According to a news release, the school has been monitoring school numbers and infection among school employees and students closely.

“We have a wealth of historical data,” noted Superintendent Keith Nance. “Numbers over the past two weeks have drastically subsided and our school data reflects that now is the appropriate time to move to MASKS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.”

“Although the county metric is still elevated we also understand that this data is a two week average of the previous two weeks and thus lags behind our own school-wide data. Our current data at school shows a continual decrease in spread of infection. Our data indicates that we are now in a lull of transmission and this follows previous trends of peaks and lows,” noted Nance. 

The school said their current mask rules were subject to change if transmission increase is evident among our collected data.

The board granted the superintendent authority to change the mask plan back to REQUIRED at any time there is evidence of spread in an individual building, classroom or program. This is inclusive of spread amongst staff and students.

The board also granted the superintendent authority to change the mask plan to STRONGLY RECOMMENDED when appropriate based on school data. 

The latest hospitalization numbers show 1,683 total COVID-19 patients: 1,458 confirmed and 225 under investigation. IDOH reported a record 3,519 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Jan. 13. Before the omicron surge, the previous highwater mark was 3,460 patients in late November 2020.

The department said 19.8% of ICU beds and 77.6% of ventilators are available across the state.

The agency’s dashboard puts the 7-day all-test positivity rate at 15.8% with a rate of 27.2% positive for unique individuals.

Dashboard data represents cases and deaths that occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the state in the last 24 hours, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

The omicron variant was found in 97.2% of samples tested statewide, with delta found in 1.4% of samples.

The County Metric map shows 88 Indiana counties in Red, with four in Orange and zero in the Yellow or Blue categories. The entire state had been red since Jan. 19.

The map is updated each Wednesday. The weekly score is determined by each county’s Weekly Cases Per 100,000 residents and its 7-Day All Test Positivity Rate.

Below are maps from the Indiana Department of Healthy Covid-19 weekly stats.