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Several central Indiana school districts to begin mask mandates Monday

School districts cite the rapid increase in COVID-19 as the reason for the mask mandate.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Several school districts will require masks to be worn indoors starting Monday, Aug. 16 due to spiking COVID-19 cases. 

Carmel, Hamilton Southeastern, and Noblesville schools in Hamilton County all sent messages Friday afternoon, notifying students, staff and parents of the changes.

In Marion County, Lawrence Township and Pike schools will also mandate masks indoors starting Aug. 16. The school board for MSD of Lawrence Township agreed to the new policy during a public meeting Friday. The requirement is in effect for all students, staff and visitors who enter a district facility, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Wayne Township schools began requiring face masks for anyone indoors on school property or in school buses on Aug. 11. 

Carmel Clay

Dear CCS Teachers and Staff, All Carmel Clay students and staff, grades K-12 will be required to wear a mask beginning Monday, August 16, 2021. Our responsibility is to ensure the safety and education of our students. Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise among adults and children. We are witnessing neighboring districts experience a substantial surge in cases and hundreds of students quarantined. We must do everything we can to keep students safe and learning in the classroom. According to updated contact tracing guidelines from the state, students who are 3 to 6 feet from an identified case do not have to quarantine if wearing a mask. This update will help keep more students learning in the classroom and possibly avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine. We know some oppose mask requirements. However, masks will be required to protect our students and staff and decrease the potential for quarantines. Masks will not be required outdoors, and multiple mask breaks will be offered to students throughout the day.

Hamilton Southeastern:

Due to the spike in numbers and the updated guidance from healthcare officials, beginning on Monday, August 16, masks will be required for all students and staff, K through 12, when indoors during the school day, regardless of vaccination status. 

I know this will not make everyone happy, but it is my goal to protect our students and staff and keep our schools open and running.

This change is reflective of what local and state health departments have messaged to schools.

A benefit of universal masking is that it will allow us to limit the number of students and staff quarantined by contact tracing at 3-feet versus at 6-feet in the classroom-setting only.

Another change we are making is reducing the length of quarantine for unvaccinated students and staff. The CDC gives options for reduced quarantine which include:

  • 10-day quarantine with return to school on day 11, or
  • 7-day quarantine with a return to school on day 8, if a negative PCR test was obtained on day 5, 6 or 7 from date of exposure. (Result must be given to school nurse prior to student's return to school.)

Noblesville:

Unfortunately, COVID rates are putting in-person learning, athletics, performing arts, and special events and activities at risk.

Specifically we are seeing:

Noblesville Schools COVID rates that are already at the peak of what we experienced last winter.

Student absenteeism rates that are among the highest we have ever seen at any time.

A significantly more contagious and powerful COVID Delta variant than the COVID we experienced last year, spreading and infecting much more rapidly. National data is showing that these infections in children can be more serious than last year’s COVID.

Many students coming to school with symptoms of illness, despite our COVID protocol that anyone with symptoms of illness should stay home.

COVID coming into our buildings from those who are not vaccinated and spreading to both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals.

This week we had three major outbreaks that required us to disrupt learning for hundreds of students by quarantining two teams at Noblesville East Middle School and a classroom at White River. This was in addition to many other individual quarantines throughout the district.

Our mission is to educate students and we believe in-person learning is the best way to do that.

In an effort to keep our schools open and minimize learning disruptions, we will be moving to an indoor mask requirement for all staff, students and visitors PreK-12 effective Monday, August 16, 2021.