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Local schools try to slow growing number of COVID quarantines

Quarantine levels in the first 14 days of school are already higher than anytime last school year in Brownsburg.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Indiana reported 2,726 new coronavirus cases Wednesday as the seven-day average continues to climb quickly. This comes as virus cases and quarantines spike through schools in central Indiana.   

The line for Indiana State Department of Health COVID-19 drive-thru testing stretched about 100 vehicles deep Tuesday afternoon through the parking lot and out onto Ronald Reagan Parkway at Hendricks Regional Health Brownsburg Hospital. Many parents brought children on school quarantine to get tested.

Credit: WTHR

Jennifer Cumbee waited in line for two hours with her 12-year-old daughter, Addison Miller.

"She feels fine and everything," Cumbee said. "We haven't had any concern. We just want to make sure everything, you know, we have a big family. We want to make sure everyone is safe. So that's why we're here to get a COVID test."

Credit: WTHR

Addison is a seventh-grader at Brownsburg East Middle School. She was identified as a close contact of a positive case at school and must quarantine because she is not vaccinated. 

"It feels frustrating because I feel fine," Addison said.

Addison is one of 1,181 quarantines in Brownsburg Schools. Those close contacts were identified from 77 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Quarantine levels in the first 14 days of school are already higher than anytime last school year in Brownsburg.

Vicky Murphy, coordinator of communications for the Brownsburg Community School Corporation, keeps track of the contact tracing and quarantine data for the district. Murphy must notify families by phone, text, and email when their child is identified as a close contact of a positive case. 

"I am sick at my stomach every time I hit send on one of those messages," Murphy said. "I am, because I know on the other end of that phone call is a parent who has to make immediate arrangements for something that they hadn't planned on that day. We don't take that lightly at all. It's a burden on families to have their student be quarantined."

Credit: WTHR
Brownsburg High School

Brownsburg Schools hopes to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of close contacts by once again requiring everyone to wear a mask inside school buildings starting Wednesday. Universal masking in school allows contact tracing to be reduced from 6 to 3 feet of an infected person with 15 minutes of exposure.

RELATED: Westfield, Brownsburg schools reinstating mask policy starting Wednesday

Tracking where students were and who they were around and how long they must quarantine is a huge task for schools.  

"It's daunting for a lot of people," Murphy said. "But we think that it's so important to have kids in school with our amazing teachers and staff, and it's worth all the things that we're doing to try to keep kids in school. Our nurses have been doing an amazing job. Our transportation department and the way they have to track the students — 'Was the student on the bus this morning?' 'No, he wasn't.' 'Yes, he was, but he switched seats' — all the things that go along with that. Our principals, who already have a full plate during the day and then have to stop what they're doing and maybe go measure desks. And so, everybody is doing a huge job. But we do feel really strongly that the best place for our kids is in school."

One-hundred students did not have to quarantine as close contacts because they provided proof of vaccination.

The recommended quarantine is 14 days. But students without symptoms are allowed to come back after 10 days in Brownsburg. Students can return after seven days with a negative COVID test result on the fifth day of quarantine.

Addison hopes for a negative test so she can return to school and rejoin her volleyball team Friday instead of waiting until Monday. 

"She wants to be in school for sure," Cumbee said. "And she's missing all her sports activities right now, because we're kind of waiting to see what our results are."

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