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IPS begins new school year with masks required in school

IPS is following the CDC, state, and Marion County Public Health Department recommendations for masks, regardless of vaccination.

INDIANAPOLIS — The first Monday in August brought covered faces back to Indianapolis Public Schools while many parents celebrated.

"It was a little hectic, but I was ready,” said Ariana Hale, mother of an IPS ninth grader. “I'm ready for this break. I was like, 'Let's go!'"

IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson rode an IndyGo Red Line bus to school with a pair of Shortridge High School students, then greeted other students at the door on the first day.

"Lots of excitement - we didn't get to have an in-person welcome back to school last year,” Johnson said. “This year we get to welcome all of our students back on the first day in our building, so excited to have them back today."

"It's exciting but it's scary, because you won't know if you fit in right away or if you'll have a hard time focusing on your education rather than focusing on your friends,” said seventh grader Genesis Victory as she arrived at Harshman Middle School.

IPS is following the CDC, state, and Marion County Public Health Department recommendations that everyone wears a mask inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status. Vaccinated students are encouraged to provide proof of their shot. That's because vaccinated students won't have to quarantine if they're asymptomatic after possible exposure.

Credit: WTHR

No one under 12 years old is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine yet. With the highly contagious delta variant spreading quickly, schools are considered areas at higher risk for COVID-19 transmission.    

"I'm hoping this year we get a good year, and they could go a full year without any mishaps or have to step back or anything,” said Nik Manawat, mother of a fourth grader at Butler Laboratory School. “But I'm ready. I'm prepared."

"I think we're all kind of feeling that as another school year starts. And you're like, 'Oh my gosh! This is the third year of having to deal with COVID in a way.' So, it's definitely taxing,” said Nate Heck, a father of two students at Butler Laboratory School. “But you know, just trying to think positive."

The COVID-19 advisory map shows central Indiana in yellow and orange due to rising cases and positivity rates. So back to school is proceeding with caution.

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