AVON, Ind. — The Avon school board has expanded the district's mask mandate to include all schools.
The school board voted on Wednesday, Aug. 18 to require masks at elementary and intermediate schools, where coronavirus cases and quarantines had been the most prevalent.
Monday night, they voted to adopt the mask policy in school buildings across the district. The mandate takes effect Tuesday, Aug. 24.
Under the new mask policy, close contact will be defined as being within three feet of a COVID-positive person for 15 minutes or more, where masks are required. In settings where masks are not required indoors, such as during lunch, a six-foot radius will be used to identify close contacts.
Superintendent Dr. Scott M. Wyndham had asked the board to consider widening the mandate in a letter to families Saturday, highlighting rising coronavirus cases and quarantines in the district's middle schools and high school.
Virus cases started to climb at Avon Middle School South last week. Between Avon Middle School North and Avon Middle School South, 849 students have been quarantined so far this year. That comes to 50 percent of all middle schoolers enrolled in Avon.
In the last week, health officials ordered the district to close three classrooms due to high concentrations of coronavirus cases. Two of these classrooms were at Avon's middle schools.
"We are experiencing a similar trend at Avon High School," Wyndham said.
As of Thursday, the high school had recorded 481 quarantines this year, and Wyndham pointed out that 305 of those occurred last week.
In the letter, Wyndham said families should be aware that some changes may have to be made to protect the students.
"We are committed to adapting based on our data," Wyndham said. "Our first priority as a school district is to keep your children safe when they’re in our care. Our decisions continue to be based on our Avon data and what steps we think are necessary to keep students healthy and in school."
Wyndham is recommending the district require masks for all students Pre-K through high school. He says the number of quarantines is hindering the district's ability to function and teach its students.
"As of last Sunday, Avon students had lost 4,030 days of instruction to COVID-19 quarantines," Wyndham said. "This week, that number climbed to an astounding 9,496 days."
Wyndham said he provided this data to the district school board, along with his recommendation that masks be required at all schools.
Monday's meeting was open to the public, but there was no opportunity for public comment.
The school board’s regular monthly meetings include opportunities for public comment, and the next regular meeting will occur on Sept. 13.