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Indiana schools get more guidance on return from COVID-19 closures

Parents should decide if students who are at a higher risk will return to school with a health care provider, Dr. Box said.

INDIANAPOLIS — As school districts in Indiana prepare for the next academic year, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said parents and guardians will need to weigh the risks and benefits of having immunocompromised students enter the classroom.

During a weekly webinar with Indiana school leaders, Box talked about the state's recommended precautions for schools this fall, including social distancing. Similar to Kentucky, Indiana does not require districts to all have the same start time or schedule, letting districts decide specifics on their own.

"There's no one-size fits all solution," Box said. "It will depend on your district, your need and your resources."

Of the recommendations, Box said masks and socially distancing are the most effective in overcoming coronavirus. Box said the state will provide 2 million masks to Indiana schools. Additionally, she said socially distancing should be practiced as best as possible in schools and school buses.

"I know that you're already at capacity and adding additional routes or limiting the number of students on a bus at one time can be very difficult," Box said.

Box said students who can be dropped off by their parents should, and students who do ride the bus should wear masks and have assigned seats. Students should also have assigned seats in all classes, with desks facing the same direction.

Similarly, Box said students should ideally eat their lunch in their classroom, limiting the number of people around them if they do test positive for COVID-19.

Parents or guardians should also weigh whether students who are immunocompromised should come to school with their health care provider, Box said.

"That is not [a decision] that I think the school superintendent, teach or nurse can make for you," Box said.

As contact sports like football or soccer begin, Box said parents should also weigh the risks of allowing children to play.

"We know the emotional, the friendships, the comradery that come from playing those sports," Box said. "Do those outweigh the risks of that individual child becoming positive for COVID19?"

Some school districts are working on a hybrid plan that may alternate between in-person and remote learning. According to our Indianapolis affiliate, one district superintendent said some parents said they are not returning their children to school and want them learning at home every day.

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