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Washington Township parents want school reopening plan changed

Virtual learning taking place last five weeks
Posted at 11:27 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 17:43:39-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Parents in Washington Township have concerns with the district's new reopening guidance. They've even started a petition hoping to get the plan changed.

Washington Township students have been doing virtual learning since the new school year started on July 30.

In a new plan posted to the district's website, it states in order for students to return the COVID-19 positivity rate must be 5% or lower in Marion County. Two weeks after the rate drops below that threshold, elementary students would return in stages to full time in-person learning five days a week. Grade sixth through twelfth would start a hybrid schedule, two weeks after the elementary students return.

"Originally, on August 12, they presented a four-tiered approach which aligns with Marion County's guidelines of going back to school in-person. They presented a three-tiered approach, which is more in line with that, but not exactly matching … And then basically eliminated the tiered approach," Marc Walters, a Washington Township parent, said.

"It's frustrating that we are not following the experts in public health, and the school board is making their own decisions in relation to the positivity rate and returning to school," Samantha Walters, a Washington Township parent, said.

The county's tiered approach states when the percent positive is 13% or higher, there should be no in-person classes. But in Washington Township, if the percent positive is 5.1% or higher, schools will close or remain closed, with no in-person learning. Right now, Marion County is at 5.2%.

Click here to view the school guidance from the Marion County Department of Public Health.

The MSD of Washington Township released the following statement to WRTV:

On behalf of the MSDWT School Board, we appreciate parents exercising their right to share their thoughts and concerns on this and any decision that we make as a board. Some voice opinions in opposition and some in support of these decisions. As a board these decisions during a pandemic have been by far the toughest decisions we have made as a board. We will continue to weight a delicate balance between getting our students back into school and the health and safety of students and staff.

The MSDWT board did vote on a threshold level of 5% positivity or less as a measure to start our reopening plan. We are very conservative in our interpretation of the MCPHD guidelines and that is how we arrived at the current 5% or lower threshold. As stated by the board, we will continue to revisit our decisions on this topic.

Again, we appreciate hearing the voices of parents, teachers and staff on our decisions made during this pandemic and will continue to try to make the best decisions as we can for all involved.