School districts across Indiana are releasing plans on how they will respond to the coronavirus pandemic for the 2021-22 academic year, such as if face masks will be required for students and staff.
Some schools will let parents decide if their student wears a mask or not, but others are requiring masks for unvaccinated students. Gov. Eric Holcomb ended the indoor mask requirement for students and K-12 school staff on June 30.
In Marion County, most districts released health and safety protocols based on the Marion County Public Health Department guidelines for schools issued in June.
“The degree of wearing masks will be a fluid situation and, as a school district, we will err on the side of caution,” Decatur Township Schools said.
Indianapolis Public Schools, the state’s largest district, and Pike Township schools are the only county school corporations so far to require face masks for some students while also allowing staff and students to submit proof of vaccination to forgo face coverings.
Most districts said they will follow local health recommendations as they change.
“If any faculty, staff, or student is fully vaccinated, they do not need to wear a mask or social distance,” wrote Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, in the June 8 order.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that everyone ages 12 and older receive a vaccination against COVID-19. Adolescents younger than 12 are still not eligible for any of the available vaccines. Coronavirus cases in Indiana – and in Marion County – have increased compared to last month due to the delta variant and number of individuals who are still not vaccinated.
All districts require face masks for everyone who rides a school bus – that’s a federal mandate from the Transportation Security Administration.
The most recent Marion County health order directs high schools to provide at least three feet of social distance between each student, or offer hybrid or fully remote learning. Elementary (K-5) and middle/junior high schools (6-8) are allowed to offer in-person classroom instruction while students must remain socially distanced at least three feet.
Here’s a brief look at Marion County school districts COVID-19 protocols:
Beech Grove City Schools: Face masks are recommended indoors for all unvaccinated students in grades four and above and all unvaccinated staff. The decision to wear a mask is up to a student’s guardian and the district employee. Masks are optional for those fully vaccinated and students in preschool through third grade. More information: District protocols
Decatur Township: Face masks will be “available and worn if and when our Marion County Board of Health deems it appropriate,” the district said. More information: District protocols
Franklin Township: Health protocols are not released yet.
Indianapolis Public Schools: Face masks are required for all unvaccinated staff and students. Students ages 12 and older and staff may opt out of wearing face masks if they voluntarily provide proof of vaccination. The district says student athletes are not required to wear masks during practice and games regardless of vaccination status. More information: District protocols
Lawrence Township: Face masks are optional inside of schools, but recommended for unvaccinated students and staff. More information: District protocols
Perry Township: Face masks are optional inside of schools. More information: District protocols
Pike Township: Face masks are required for all students and non-exempt staff for in-person instruction. Students and staff may opt out of wearing face masks if they voluntarily provide proof of vaccination and/or have tested positive for antibodies. Masks may be removed under a teacher’s direction “for not more than 10 minutes while students are socially distanced at their seats or desk shields are used.” Face masks are required for people unvaccinated if social distancing can not be maintained. More information: District protocols
Speedway Schools: Rules around face masks depend on the student’s grade. Face masks are not required for students in kindergarten through second grade. Masks are “recommended, but not required” whilestudents in grades 3-6 are in class. Masks are required for unvaccinated students in grades 7-12. Masks are required for unvaccinated district staff. More information: District protocols
Warren Township: Health protocols are not released yet.
Washington Township: Health protocols are not released yet.
Wayne Township: Face masks are optional for fully vaccinated people. Masks must be worn by all individuals in grades 3 and above who are not fully vaccinated. More information: District protocols
This story will be updated.