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Wayne Township Schools issues mask mandate, quarantines over 450 students in first 8 days

In the first eight days of classes, 461 students were quarantined. The district hopes a mask mandate will reduce the number of students who have to be quarantined.
Credit: WTHR

INDIANAPOLIS — The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township has revised its mask advisory in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and due to a high number of students having to quarantine after being in close contact with someone who contracted coronavirus.

In the first eight days of classes, the school district had 461 students who had to be quarantined, Superintendent Jeffery Butts pointed out in a Monday letter to families. Also last week, 37 students and staff tested positive for coronavirus. It was the district's fourth-highest number of positive tests in a week since the pandemic began and the highest since Jan. 8, 2021. 

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With this in mind, the district sent a letter to families revising its masking requirements to follow the CDC's guidance.

Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 11, masks will be required for everyone who enters any M.S.D. of Wayne Township facility and on school buses. The rule comes with some exceptions. Children under the age of 2, people with a disability who cannot wear a mask, and anyone who would have to risk their health, safety, or job to wear a mask, are excluded from the rule. 

In making its decision, Butts cited CDC guidance that says if masks are worn in the K-12 indoor classroom setting, then the definition of a close contact changes to exclude students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student, so long as both parties were properly wearing a mask when they came in contact.

RELATED: Elwood schools back to mask requirement after students test positive for COVID-19

This could lighten the district's load, substantially reducing the number of students it has to quarantine.

As an added precaution, the district is also keeping elementary students in consistent pods throughout the day. When they're in their pods, students won't need to wear a mask. However, when they transition outside their pod they'll have to wear a mask. Similarly, the district will be maintaining seating charts and cohorting of students will continue for contact tracing.

Visitors also won't be able to eat with students or staff during lunch. 

School leaders also hope these revised policies will help keep students in the classroom and allow them to avoid a need to move between in-person, hybrid and remote learning. 

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