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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Making schools safe for students, teachers ahead of fall semester

Public schools are in the cross hairs of a political fight over when they should reopen and what precautions they should take to protect children and teachers.

FORTVILLE, Ind. — Public schools are in the cross hairs of a political fight over when they should reopen and what precautions they should take to protect children and teachers. 

The President wants kids in class on schedule and wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rewrite its safety recommendations, but the head of the CDC aid no.

13News looked at what Indiana schools are already doing to keep everyone safe.

At Mount Vernon elementary classrooms are scrubbed and sanitized. Students arrive in less than three weeks. 

Credit: WTHR

“Oh my gosh it is going to be so much different," School Superintendent Dr. Jack Parker said. “A difference I haven’t experienced in my 31 years as a teacher.” 

First off, Parker said every student and employee must always have a face mask, but won’t have to wear it all the time. 

“We want them to wear those face masks when they can’t socially distance.” he said. “Coming off the bus and back on to the bus after school, between classes, going to the rest room.” 

Like every school district social distancing is Mount Vernon’s biggest challenge. 

Cafeterias will have assigned seating. Students may eat in hallways, spare rooms or libraries to give them more space.

Students riding buses will sit in assigned seats.

Unlike most other schools, Mount Vernon believes there is enough room to sit  students six feet apart.

“Principals are going through every room pulling out extra furniture that is not needed so there is enough space to move around,” Parker said.  About one in 10 parents are choosing an e-Learning option for their children, creating more space in classrooms.

Credit: WTHR

School districts are replacing water fountains with bottle dispensers, staggering arrival and dismissal times so hallways aren’t jammed with students. Mt Vernon purchased fogging machines that will sanitize buses and school rooms every night.

Even with all the precautions parents are expected to be the first line of defense against COVID-19.

“We are asking all of our parents to screen all their children each and every day,” Parker said.

Students with symptoms are to be kept home, if symptoms are discovered at school the student will be isolated until they are sent home.

In this new school year, schools will be different but safer for teachers and their students.