Dr. Tom Hrisomalos, infectious disease specialist with IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians, says masks will be an important step in keeping students and staff safe at school.
“We have barriers, like washing hands, that prevent transmission,” Hrisomalos said. “We have physical distancing, keeping people six feet apart; wearing masks does the same thing. Spending time outdoors rather than in confined places – every one of those things is a barrier. And so, even if we're not a hundred percent with any one of them, as long as we can create this series of measures, then I think we can all protect ourselves.”
How children spread COVID-19 is still up for debate. Last week, the American Association of Pediatrics issued a statement advocating in-person learning.
“I don't think we can hang our hat on the fact that kids may be less infectious,” Hrisomalos said. “They're still going to have close contact with one another, gonna have close contact with their parents. And I think there's still a risk there. So, until we really know better, I think we still have to take a cautious route in that regard.”
According to the updated plan, students will be able to remove masks:
During breakfast or lunch, if they are socially distanced 6 feet or more
During outdoor recess, if they are socially distanced 6 feet or more
During a 3-5 minute break, if socially distanced 6 or more feet, with all desks facing the same direction
“Everything's relative, but if someone needs to take their mask off to eat or takes their mask off to blow their nose or something of that sort, that's understandable,” Hrisomalos said. “The best circumstance would be to try and do that with other people not close by, so you're not at risk of transmission. Maybe even structure an environment where there are periods of time where you don't need a mask if you're sitting in an isolated area and so forth.”
The school corporation will provide each student a mask for in-person learning.
Parents will receive registration information to choose online or in-person classes by early next week so students can register for school by July 20.
For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana pagehere.