INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's Department of Education released a comprehensive list of recommendations that they believe would allow them to get students back into the classroom this fall.
IDOE's 2020-2021 school year COVID-19 reentry considerations list was developed in partnership with multiple state departments including the Governor's office, the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
“The health and safety of Hoosier students, school staff, and communities is priority one. Providing students with a quality education is critical and therefore it is crucial we offer considerations focused on getting students back in the classroom in a safe manner,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick. “Considering the many unknowns associated with COVID-19, we also recognize the importance of alternative learning opportunities. We appreciate the thoughtful and collaborative spirit in which IN-CLASS was developed.”
The plan offers protocols for health and safety and guidance on policy changes, social distancing, transportation, special education and extracurricular activities.
Some highlights include:
- Building contingencies into the school calendar to include on-site, virtual or blended instruction.
- Shorter or longer school breaks
- Preparing an alternate command structure in case key administrative employees are unable to work
- Removing punitive measures for absences if illness, localized outbreak or exposure to disease is determined
- Establishing mitigation strategies
- Providing daily health reports to the central office
- Developing screening procedures
- Reviewing student and staff schedules to provide adequate time for hand washing, sanitizing desks and good hygiene practices
- Preparing a plan for academic and social, emotional and behavioral wellness of students and staff
- New plans to address volunteers, visitors interns and deliveries
Indiana State Teachers Association President released the following response to the IDOE COVID-19 health and safety guidance plan:
"The guidance released today clearly leaves the decision-making standards on re-entry to local school districts. This means teachers and staff must be part of this planning, as much of the responsibility for student safety falls on them.
Parents will need assurances that schools will be a safe place. It will be key for administrators to engage them as well in the development of local plans that ensure the well-being of everyone.
Finally, in order to safely re-open, significant costs will be passed on to local public schools. The governor must ensure that there are no cuts to K-12 education. Our students and staff should not pay the price during this crisis."