INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Public Schools is once again requiring students and staff at one IPS school to wear face masks as COVID-19 cases increase within the facility.
The decision, which is effective immediately, affects students at Center for Inquiry School 84 (440 E. 57th Street), a magnet school for students in kindergarten through 8th grade.
Masks must be worn indoors and on buses the rest of the school year, from Monday, May 9 to Tuesday, May 24.
The district says the increase in cases is among several grades, and both students and staff have gotten sick.
In a statement, IPS said “field trips and community events will also require staff, students and visitors to wear masks.”
IPS officials did not release information on how many positive COVID-19 cases had been reported at the school. A district spokesperson also did not answer questions about who made the mask decision.
At this time, the mask policy is not in effect for any other IPS schools.
Jose Vazquez, whose daughter attends first grade at the school, said he was surprised when he received an email saying she would have to wear a mask to school for the first time since late February.
“I think I was more bummed out than she was,” Vazquez said. “I mean it’s kind of like going back to that two years, and I was kind of hoping that we didn’t have to go back.”
Health officials are keeping track of a modest increase in statewide COVID-19 cases. According to the Indiana State Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, Indiana is currently seeing 762 positive cases each day. That’s 171 more cases per day than the previous 7-day average. The ISDH youth COVID-19 dashboard shows a current average of 110 positive cases per day. That’s 30 more daily cases than the previous 7-day average.
As of Monday, there were no indications that any other schools would face similar mask requirements. However, health experts also said they would not be surprised to see it happen.
“I would not be surprised if more schools have to do this,” said Dr. John Christenson, Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Riley Hospital for Children. “Right now, we only know of one school, but I would not be very surprised to see more cases spreading, for example in high schools.”
At the same time, experts are also hopeful that upcoming summer break will help reverse the current upward trend.
“People tend to get outside more at the end of school year,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis, Vice President of Data and Analytics at the Regenstrief Institute. “We see people sort of scatter and we see less of that congregation inside.”