07 Sep, 2021
MSD of Martinsville Mask Choice
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Dear MSD of Martinsville Families,
We have been informed that there will need to be a change to our planned masking choice and contact tracing/quarantine program. Our classrooms are not eligible for 3’ contact tracing or the “no quarantine” option from Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order based upon information sent Friday evening by the Indiana Department of Health.
Background Information and Timeline
We rolled out a mask plan based upon information from the IDOH in their weekly webinars for schools on 8/12 and 8/19, which stated that contact tracing could move from 6’ to 3’ in classroom settings as long as the positive case and the close contacts were masked.
On Wednesday, September 1st, Governor Holcomb announced a new Executive Order citing newly developed IDOH protocols, including the guidance that if the positive case and close contact were fully masked they would be contact traced at fewer than 3’ but not have to quarantine. At 2:02 pm on Thursday, September 2nd we received guidance from the Morgan County Health Department that schools could group students by masked versus unmasked.
Friday evening at 6:37 pm, we received word from the Morgan County Health Department that the Indiana State Department of Health had reiterated that all individuals in a classroom/school must be masked in order to follow the, “no quarantine” policy. An email to all Indiana school nurses at 6:58 pm reiterated that wording and added a new piece of information that the 3’ contact tracing rule could only be used in fully masked classrooms.
On Tuesday, September 7th at 12:42 pm, we received confirmation from the Indiana State Department of Health that we could not contact trace at 3’ unless all individuals in the room/building were masked.
At this time, we will continue to fully follow information from health leaders and keep our layered approach to combating the spread of COVID-19. This includes but isn’t limited to: increasing air filtration, using water bottles instead of drinking fountains, spacing students as far apart as possible in classrooms, conducting activities outdoors when possible, not having large-group convocations and increased cleaning in our classrooms and schools. Masking continues on school buses per federal guidelines.
Masking continues to be highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, Indiana Department of Health, and American Academy of Pediatrics. We highly recommend our families utilize this extra level of precaution as well.
We will continue to be in contact with state and local health officials and monitor cases of COVID-19 in our county and our schools. At this time, positive cases within MSD of Martinsville are at 2.1% of our total population. Contact tracing has put an additional 9.4% out of class on quarantine. Should guidance from health officials, case counts or other factors require that we consider a change to our plan, we will communicate directly with our families.
Thank you for your support of our students and our schools. The past 18 months have been a difficult time for our families and our school family. We have heard from those who feel very strongly on both sides of the mask issue and appreciate any family advocating for their child. Please know that we, too, hoped the 2021-22 school year would be far more normal and far less weighted by the pandemic, new information and updated guidance.
This pandemic reminds us how important it is for our families, staff and community to support our children so they can continue to learn and grow in a safe environment. Regardless of what decisions are made in the weeks and months to come, please know that we will continue to follow the guidance of health officials to keep the safety of everyone in our schools at the forefront.
MSD of Martinsville Administration