EACS looks to make masks optional, shorten social distance in new school year

Coronavirus

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WANE) — East Allen County Schools (EACS) has shared its proposed reopening plan for the 2021-2022 school year, which shows looser restrictions than the previous year.

The plan – posted on the district’s website – is not yet finalized. As written, though, the plan “it is the desire of the school district to move to a ‘mask optional policy’ for the fall of 2021.”

According to the plan, all students and staff will be required to wear masks when social distancing is not possible if masks are required by the CDC, Allen County Health Department (ACHD) or Indiana State Health Department (ISDH).

Click here for the full proposed plan.

EACS issued the following statement on the plan:

“The East Allen County Schools Board of School Trustees passed a resolution on May 4th regarding the “Back to School Plan for the fall. The Board desires for the school district to move to a “mask-optional” policy for the 2021-2022 school year. If masks are required, EACS will require universal and correct wearing of masks in accordance with the most current CDC guidance, as well as guidance from the ACDH and the IDOH. For more information, go to the East Allen County Schools website.”

Here are more details included in the plan:

TRANSPORTATION:

If there are no mask requirements in place by those agencies, students will also not have to wear face coverings while on the bus. Despite dropping the masks, students will still be assigned seating with families, siblings and students from the same bus stop being grouped together. Social distancing will be utilized when possible.

Buses will also be aired out when they are not in use, and high-touch areas will be disinfected at the end of each route. This will be the case for everyday school routes as well as extracurricular routes. Protocol for field trips will not be determined until closer to the start of the new school year.

IN THE BUILDING:

Barring any mask requirements from the CDC, ACHD or ISDH, students and staff will not be required to wear masks at school unless they would like to. The school will enforce a 3-foot social distance, about one arms’ length, when possible.

If there is a mask requirement in place, students and staff will be required to wear them while transitioning between classes, while on the bus and while waiting in lines. However, students would have opportunities to remove face coverings while in the classroom if social distancing is possible and students are all facing the same direction.

LUNCHTIME:

During lunchtime, social distancing will be practice when practical. Students will either have assigned seats in the lunchroom or will sit with their class. Meals and concession items will be “Grab and Go” style and options will be reduced. Disposable plates and utensils will also be utilized.

Students will also get time before and have their meal to wash their hands.

WHEN SOMEONE IS SICK:

EACS has created separate isolation areas aside from the school clinic. The district will train new staff on identifying COVID-19 symptoms in their students. Any students showing symptoms will be referred to the school clinic, where school nurses will verify symptoms.

Areas used by a sick person will be closed off for 24 hours and then cleaned and disinfected. Sick children and staff members will be recommended to not return to school until they have met state and local criteria to return.

LARGE GROUP GATHERINGS:

EACS will follow size restrictions set by the state when it comes to large gatherings, such as sporting events. All visitors will be encouraged to stay six feet apart. Face coverings will only be required if the CDC, ACHD or ISHD say so. Students will also be encouraged to shower immediately after returning home from athletic or band activities.

The district will stagger the schedule of events and ask people to leave as soon as their event concludes. They will also discourage contact celebrations, such as handshakes and team huddles as well as sharing drinks and gum.

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