Area schools united in virus response

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School employees and students who test positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Montgomery County will be quarantined, and contact tracing will immediately follow, during the 2020-21 school year.

That was the consensus of superintendents Dr. Colleen Moran (North Montgomery) and Dr. Shawn Greiner (Southmont) on Wednesday, who said they plan to respond in the same manner as Crawfordsville Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling following a Tuesday announcement that one of his staff members had tested positive for the virus.

“The staff member is not a teacher,” Bowling said in a letter to parents Tuesday. “Five other staff members have been quarantined as a precaution.”

The three superintendents and administrators have worked in tandem to create uniform COVID-19 policies for the upcoming school year, and have long expressed they will work closely with the Montgomery County Health Department to determine what steps are necessary if and when a positive case is discovered.

Asked their response to a positive case within their districts, Moran said, “We would just do as Dr. Bowling did and take direction from the MCHD,” while Greiner said, “We will work closely with the MCHD similar to Crawfordsville schools.”

Each district has adopted a hybrid schedule for grades 6-12, in which students will rotate every other day between remote and in-person instruction. Elementary students will attend in-person classes five days a week.

Several hygiene practices and sterilization methods have been stressed at each district to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Please make sure that you are assessing the health of your children daily and keep them home if they are exhibiting symptoms,” Bowling said. “Please understand that masks, social distancing and handwashing techniques are effective.”

In a similar letter sent to North Montgomery parents Tuesday, which included support for the mental health of students enduring an ever-changing landscape, Moran stressed the importance of hygiene and daily screening.

“Review safety protocols with your child in order to familiarize them with expectations,” she said. “Reassure your child that these protocols are in place for their safety as well as the safety and health of others.”

Keeping children home when they exhibit symptoms may be a leading force in preventing the spread of the virus, as announced by the Indiana State Department of Health.

Screening methods which should be performed every morning include ensuring the child does not have a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, or is not feeling well. Questions to ask oneself, the ISDH announced, include, “Were you in close contact (within six feet for more than 15 minutes) with anyone confirmed with COVID-19 within the last two weeks?”

The ISDH stresses that, if the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then parents should not send their child to school.

“Instead, begin quarantine of your child and contact your healthcare provider,” the ISDH announcement reads. “Strongly consider COVID-19 testing.”

Other signs of illness which should be assessed each morning before school include:

• Congestion or runny nose

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Diarrhea

• Nausea or vomiting

• Sore throat

• Muscle pain and fatigue

• Chills

• New loss of taste or smell

Questions may be directed to a family’s healthcare provider or MCHD at 765-364-6440.

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