NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — 118 Noblesville Middle Schoolers are in quarantine after what Noblesville Schools leaders are calling a COVID-19 outbreak.
This goes against what some parents understood to be the protocols the school system laid out before the semester started, protocols that have now been changed.
The outbreak is at Noblesville East Middle School. Marnie Cooke, a spokesperson for Noblesville Schools, said they made the decision to quarantine an entire group of eighth-graders to try and stop the spread and keep the school open.
This is still leaving parents with questions and frustrations.
“I never ever thought that we were going to quarantine asymptomatic, vaccinated kids. Unless it’s a vaccinated kid with a breakthrough case,” said the parent of a vaccinated Noblesville East Middle Schooler.
She didn’t want to be identified, over fears of retaliation against her or her kids.
She said her child was not a part of this quarantine, but she’s worried about what this decision could mean for her vaccinated child down the road.
“My concern is that it is another disruption with learning,” she said.
Now, she said she’s hoping to get a better explanation of why students who are vaccinated are being sent home in this quarantine.
“All that they have said is there is an outbreak and by quarantining this entire team they’re hoping to not shut down the entire school.”
Cooke said before school leaders decided to send all 118 students home, 30% of the group was already absent for a COVID-related reason.
However, the parent we spoke to is looking for more information than that.
“We need to know what that information is that they have, that they are basing these decisions on, and to me that is the most frustrating part. I am just not seeing any evidence behind these decisions being made,” she said.
Cooke said they consulted with the Hamilton County Health Department before quarantining the students.
Christian Walker, the Hamilton County Health Dept. Public Health Preparedness Coordinator said the department advises the schools but only makes recommendations, not rules.
Walker said this is a fluid situation.
“I think flexibility and patience on everyone’s part is going to help us get through this and find the right response for each community here,” Walker said.
The 118 Noblesville East Middle School students will return from their quarantine on Aug. 26. In the meantime, they are not allowed to go to any after-school or extracurricular events.
When it comes to possible future situations of large outbreaks, Cooke said there is no “hard and fast” standard for what qualifies as an outbreak, verse what is just normal spread. She said those will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.