A listener recently submitted this question to our City Limits: Coronavirus project: "Just wondering how recess and gym classes will go?"
The short answer is there may be no recess or gym classes. And, if there is, it will look different.
Face masks, staggered start times, smaller class sizes, playground closures have all been addressed in a 38-page document released earlier this month by the Indiana Department of Education for schools preparing to reopen during the current pandemic.
The report details measures for school leaders to consider but does not mandate any policy change. Schools can reopen in July or August. Most school districts have said they are planning to reopen their facility for the 2020-21 school year as scheduled.
First and foremost, schools are trying to find creative ways how to implement social distancing.
Suggestions include year-round schooling with alternating breaks to minimize the number of students in the building at any time, or scheduling students to attend in-person school on alternate days or half days to minimize the number of students in the building. Another approach is to continue to offer both in-person and remote instruction.
The state is recommending schools close cafeterias, playgrounds and limiting times in the hallways. Students would be served bagged or boxed meals and eat at their desks instead of eating together in the cafeteria. Bathroom breaks would also be scheduled to eliminate crowding.
If schools do allow for recess, they will probably alternate times to limit the number of students on the playground and then allow time to disinfect equipment between uses. It has been suggested physical education classes, choir, band, orchestra and other large classes be reorganized to address social distancing.
Indiana schools will look much different when they reopen in this era of social distancing. School administrators do not have everything figured out, but they do know students will not return to classrooms and buildings that look anything like what they left behind in March.
School officials are committed to working with their local health departments and school boards to create a safe and healthy learning environment.
For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana pagehere.