Ind. — Citing an increase in COVID-19 cases, the Metropolitan District of Pike Township Schools, Noblesville Schools, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, Carmel Clay Schools and Washington Township Schools announced Friday masks will be required indoors for students, staff and visitors beginning Monday, August 16.
Pike cited the current level of community spread as the reason for the requirement.
New Mask Requirement Effective 8-16-21 pic.twitter.com/HlJqARNZiB— Pike Twnshp Schools (@PikeSchools) August 13, 2021
The Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township School Board voted unanimously Friday night to require masks for all inside buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
"By requiring all individuals to wear masks, we can reduce the need to quarantine, disrupt student learning and negatively affect families' ability to work," Dana Altemeyer, Director of Communications for the district, said in a press release. "COVID-19 data from the opening of school and subsequent quarantines have demonstrated the need for this shift."
Marnie Cooke, Director of Marketing and Communications for Noblesville Schools, said in an email many students are coming to school with symptoms of illness, COVID rates are at the peak of what the district saw last winter and student absenteeism rates are among the highest they have ever seen at any time.
"COVID [is] coming into our buildings from those who are not vaccinated and spreading to both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals," Cooke said. "Unfortunately, COVID rates are putting in-person learning, athletics, performing arts, and special events and activities at risk."
According to the district, two teams at Noblesville East Middle School and a classroom at White River are in quarantine, in addition to individual quarantines throughout the district.
The district says bandanas are not approved for use as a mask and face shields will only be used by select staff and students in specific, approved situations. They are strongly encouraging anyone who is eligible to get a COVID-19 shot to get one.
Hamilton Southeastern says there have been 80 positive cases among students, and more than 500 have been notified as close contacts.
"Last year was tough, and we had hoped this year would be as close to pre-COVID times for our students and staff as possible. Unfortunately, we are still living in a pandemic," superintendent Dr. Yvonne Stokes said in a video released by the district.
In a statement sent to WRTV, Carmel Clay Schools said they are witnessing neighboring districts "experience a substantial surge in cases and hundreds of students quarantined."
Visitors to the school are by invitation only, and masks will be required for them as well. Vaccinated students and staff will not be required to quarantine if exposed to someone who has tested positive.
"We know some oppose mask requirements. However, masks will be required to protect our students and staff and decrease the potential for quarantines," the district said.
Masks are not required outdoors at Carmel Clay Schools, and multiple mask breaks will be offered to students throughout the day.
Washington Township says face shields can be used with a mask but not in substitution of a mask. You can see the district's full updated protocols here.