Indiana schools get incentive to require classroom masks

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana schools are getting an incentive toward requiring face masks in classrooms intended to slow down the number of COVID-19 outbreaks among students around the state.

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a new statewide executive order Wednesday that will ease quarantine requirements for students if all children and adults in the school were wearing masks throughout the day.

The new measure says:

  • Schools and day cares that have mask requirements that are consistently followed throughout the day do not have to quarantine students, teachers and staff who are close contacts and aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Schools and day cares must continue to contact trace by notifying their local health department as well as parents, teachers and staff who were in close contact

The revised order comes as many Indiana schools have seen COVID-19 outbreaks and the state’s vaccination rate remains stubbornly low.

The coronavirus risk ratings updated weekly by the state health department put 13 of Indiana’s 92 counties in highest-risk red category, with 75 counties with the next-highest orange rating.

Currently in Allen County, Fort Wayne Community Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS) are the only public school districts that require masks. Monday, NACS school board voted 3-2 to temporarily reinstate its mask mandate.

With the mask mandate, FWCS is also pushing to keep their students in the classroom with rapid COVID testing for students.

Parents must provide consent for the student to be tested, but in a previous interview, FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee the biggest advantage to this is parents do not have to take their children out of school to find a testing site.

“Right now it’s really hard to get in to get a rapid test and the PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) takes a few days. This is the fastest way to get kids tested,” Stockman said. “If they are not COVID positive, it allows them to stay in school. That’s really what we are trying to do – we want kids in school and in the building as much as possible.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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