Hendricks County schools COVID-19 guidance violates state measures

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HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. – Hendricks County is now in the red status for COVID-19 spread. As case numbers rise, schools are updating protocols.

However, one of the county’s school district’s approved guidance is in violation of state health measures.

The state and health leaders say this is a problem, while the school board says they’re doing what’s best for their community.

“We felt like we could do quarantining a little bit differently,” said School Board President Cory Mason of the Danville Community School Corporation. “We’ve had a lot of interaction with our community on both sides quite honestly.”

Mason explained over the phone how it’s in the families’ and students’ best interest to make quarantining a parental decision.

“They’re the ones who are with their children and they know their children the best. We feel that it’s best placed with the parents to keep track of their children, to know when their children are sick, and we have full confidence in our community’s parents,” Mason explained.

While he says the school board has confidence, the Hendricks County Health Department is not on board with the plan. Kandi Jamison, the director of Public Health Nursing for the county, sent the following statement:

The Hendricks County Health Department recommends for all schools to quarantine close contacts as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indiana Department of Health, and as declared in the Governor’s Executive Order. 

Following these recommendations without deviations from them will provide the safest environment for our students. 

As we enter into a red status, the health department, recommends social distancing and wearing masks or cloth facial coverings in public places. Please stay home and isolate for your 10 days if you test positive. If you are a contact to a positive person, quarantine the appropriate number of days your health care provider determines necessary based on your contact tracing. 

The option to not quarantine non-symptomatic students of close contacts are only for schools who require masks at all times or have a mask mandate for their school. 

Kandi Jamison, RN

Masks are not required in the district and the school board has discontinued mandatory quarantines of non-symptomatic close contact people. You can find the full protocols for Danville schools on their website, here.

Their recent decision is in direct conflict with Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order.

Now, the Indiana Department of Education is coordinating with the Indiana Department of Health to get the district in compliance with the law.

Mason added, “I would like to say we’re going to stick to our guns and stay with what we have, but I don’t think we’re going to be foolish enough to know the state is the state and ultimately we’re going to have to abide by what we’re told to do. Funding comes from the state.”

A few miles down the road, the North West Hendricks School Corporation’s board voted to require masks starting next Tuesday, Sept. 21.

In a letter to parents, the superintendent cited an uptick in cases, staff struggling with the amount of absences and more. According to Superintendent Dr. Scott Syverson, the district has currently had 68 positive cases of COVID since the beginning of school compared to only five at this same time last year.

“We will continue to work towards keeping our students in school this year, safe and healthy, and avoid a need to move between in-person and AHL. The board will review the situation in October and make any necessary adjustments at that time,” said Syverson in the letter to families.

As for Danville, Mason hopes the state and its agencies can see where they’re coming from.

“Hopefully this can be a partnership and we all can come to an agreement,” said Mason.

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