Public Health

Schools brace for rise in COVID-19 cases, stress masks for visitors

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As the state moves into Stage 5 of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track: Indiana plan, students, families and the community at large must remain vigilant in combating the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), all three Montgomery County superintendents said this week.

Each sent out letters to parents and are highlighting concerns at meetings ahead of cold weather and holiday gatherings, noting that Montgomery County is showing the lowest rate of transmission in the state.

But that won’t last long as areas surrounding Montgomery County see spikes in the illness.

“We know that we may not be able to maintain this level, due to the rise in cases in nearby counties,” Southmont Superintendent Dr. Shawn Greiner said. “As we move toward fall break and the holiday season, we encourage you to be responsible in your interaction with others in order to keep our schools open.”

Crawfordsville Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling said the county’s low rate of spread can be largely attributed to wearing masks.

All students, teachers, administrators, staff and visitors are required to wear masks and observe social distancing while at North Montgomery, Crawfordsville or Southmont.

But not everyone is complying with the governor’s facial covering mandate, which continues to be extended each month.

“Montgomery County is currently the only county with a score of 0. I think that’s something to celebrate; realistically, that’s not going to hold,” he said of the Indiana online coronavirus dashboard. “We know we’re going to have some cases here in the community.

“We got a report this week about an away (CHS) volleyball game at a school corporation with a closure,” he said. “The majority of our group were wearing masks, but the majority of the host school fans weren’t wearing masks, even though they’ve had a school closure.”

North Montgomery Superintendent Dr. Colleen Moran said in her letter to parents that all three districts continue to work closely with the Montgomery County Health Department to mitigate risk and keep schools open.

“We consider ourselves lucky, as we know that not all health departments and schools have the open dialogue we have,” she said. “The (health department) cautions us that just because we have moved to Stage 5 and have had a week with no cases — we cannot have a false sense of security for our community.”

Health officials in neighboring Fountain County, for example, saw an increase of 75 cases during the past two weeks.

As schools move into the winter months, administrators will continue to work closely with the health department.

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