Schools see positive COVID-19 cases in first week

Posted at 8:10 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 20:11:03-04

GREENFIELD — Some schools in central Indiana have started to welcome back students in-person, but the comeback hasn't been perfect.

Several schools have experienced COVID-19 difficulties.

RTV6 is asking the state if it will be providing more guidance to schools on how to keep students and staff safe and speaking with administrators in one district that had a COVID-19 case on their first day of class.

The very night after students' first day back at school, the Greenfield-Central superintendent emailed parents notifying them that a student did indeed come to school that day, later testing positive for the coronavirus.

"It was a little alarming and disappointing," Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin said. "We put three months into planning for this."

That afternoon on day one, the Hancock County Health Department called Greenfield-Central schools to tell them the news.

"The student had taken the test a few days before, came to school before they got the results," Olin said. "Upon finding that out, we pulled the student from the classroom and isolated that individual in the clinic."

After isolating the student, school officials identified through seating charts who was close to the student and notified those families to quarantine for 14 days.

"COVID is going to spread," Olin said. "So we have protocols in place to make sure that we knew what we would do and to work with our principals and teachers to let them know how we would follow through with it to let our community know then."

Greenfield-Central is just one of the districts to have a positive COVID-19 case within the first week. Some districts have said they want more guidance from the state as the Indiana Department of Education largely left their guidelines and recommendations up to the local health departments and school districts.

"I think everybody wants more support but obviously we've got to figure out how to do that with the support that we have in place," Olin said. "The contact tracing requires a lot of time. I think about that for one case for a student who was with us for part of the day. Think about what that would look like on a day where you may have two or three."

The threshold for Greenfield-Central isn't necessarily the number of cases, Olin said.

"It's not a number of cases specifically. If our attendance rate reaches an alarming rate we would certainly consider moving everyone to a virtual environment," Olin said. "We will have conversations within our local health department if our attendance rate drops below 90 percent."

Officials with the Indiana State Department of Health said they are not tracking COVID-19 cases in schools right now. There is also no requirement for schools to have their COVID-19 safety plans approved by the state. But the Indiana Department of Education said districts are required to update their continuous learning plans.