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IPS teachers react to district's new COVID-19 protocols

Teachers getting their classrooms ready for the upcoming school year were talking about the new COVID-19 policy, released Tuesday.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Public Schools teachers are preparing for the start of the new school year, which begins Aug. 2.

Wednesday, Stephanie Coleman, who teaches fourth grade at Center For Inquiry School 70, spent a good portion of her day unloading boxes filled with school supplies from her van and moving back into the classroom.

"I feel pretty good about it," Coleman said. "I'm always excited to see the kids, that's what I always look forward to every year."

Because of the pandemic, Coleman spent all of last year teaching virtually. She said she supports the district's new COVID-19 protocols.

"I have my own kids and feel they will be fine wearing masks to school," she said.

The new policy, released Tuesday, requires unvaccinated staff and students to wear masks. But those 12 and older and staff can forgo masks if they provide proof of vaccination. (Children younger than 12 have not yet been approved to receive the vaccine.)

RELATED: IPS unveils protocols on face masks, vaccinations for upcoming school year

Monday, IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson told 13News the (then yet to be disclosed) policy was intended "to make sure we're keeping the health and safety of our students and staff a top priority, but also ensuring we can be in school and do so for as long as possible. We hope the entire school year is in-person, where we know kids generally learn best."

Nathan Blevins, who teaches eighth grade social studies at Longfellow Middle School said, "I feel really good about the policy. I think it's rooted in the science and data we're receiving about COVID."

Blevins is also a building representative for the Indianapolis Education Association, which represents roughly 900 teachers. He said the feedback he's heard about the district's new protocols has been positive. 

"Most of the educators I've talked to feel it's a good balance between having masking and allowing people that personal choice who are vaccinated to opt to go without the mask," he said.

Blevins said he understands everything could change should the delta variant become a bigger issue. But for now, he said teachers "want to be in the classrooms teaching all year. We don't want a repeat of last year which was very difficult all around."