INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Health is recommending all students across the state wear masks in school. That is regardless of vaccination status. ISDH also urged faculty and staff in schools wear masks as well.
The state said it is in line with recommendations from the CDC and is urgent because the delta variant now makes up 91 percent of cases in Indiana.
While ISDH officials said they are strongly urging school districts to follow the recommendations, they said they will not go so far as to make them requirements.
"The state of Indiana is very much a state that very much feels that the control should be in the hands of the elected officials to make those decisions because they were elected by the people," said Dr. Kris Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner. "We are being respectful of that. But I think we are making it very clear about what we are recommending."
The state is seeing an increase in delta variant cases among school-aged residents.
"We do believe that this is a significant increase in cases," Box said. "We have given Hoosiers the tools that they need: the information, the education, the ability to get vaccinated. We have provided that over, and over, and over again. So we do believe it comes down to some personal responsibility for Hoosiers across the state to make those decisions for themselves and in their own communities."
It did point to low vaccination rates among students who were 12 and older and could be vaccinated as a significant concern.
"Vaccinations are available and have been available for anybody 12 and older now for quite a long time. So anyone who wanted their child vaccinated could get them vaccinated if they're 12 and older. And anyone themselves who wanted to be vaccinated could," Box said. "We know we've educated people, they know what they need to do to try and help prevent the spread of this infection and it really has been made clear to us by our local elected officials that they want to be making these decisions across the state for their communities."
All K-12 institutions are required to notify the state immediately upon learning of a positive case and a student testing positive must quarantine.
Indiana officials said COVID-19 case levels are above where we were at this time last year. The state is testing 13,000 people per day and said 8,000 people in Indiana were hospitalized with COVID-19 this week.
Nearly 50 percent of Hoosiers have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
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