NEW MARKET — Masks are recommended but not mandated for unvaccinated students and staff and distancing will continue in classrooms and common areas when the new school year begins at South Montgomery.
The measures are spelled out in the district’s re-entry plan, which was enacted Monday by the school board. The first day of classes is Aug. 11.
The state-mandated Return to In-Person Instruction Plan sets procedures on masking, contact tracing and quarantines, sanitizing and other steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Officials stressed that the plan, which is similar to last year’s re-entry guidelines, could be adjusted based on the county’s status.
“Should numbers increase in our county, there could be things that may need to be changed, and so I think we just have to be prepared for that,” said board president Brad Monts.
The district’s mask guidance is hinged on specific language in federal health guidance that says face coverings are recommended — not required — in school buildings.
Masks are optional for everyone during the school day and at extracurricular events. But federal rules still require them on school buses, and masks will be provided to school nurses for symptomatic students. Signage on proper mask wearing will remain posted in buildings.
In the event of a local mask mandate, the plan will go back to the board for updates, superintendent Dr. Shawn Greiner said.
On quarantines, the district said it would quarantine unvaccinated people in close contact with a positive case only if required under public health guidelines.
“The question is, and some administrators are already asking, how do you make someone prove that they’re vaccinated?” Greiner said.
“We haven’t been told yet that we’re going to be required to quarantine the haves and have-nots, but right now we’re seeing the word ‘should’ or ‘recommended,’” he added.
South will continue to provide vaccines through a partnership with Franciscan Health and the Crawfordsville Fire Department’s Community Paramedicine Program. The district will also continue a coronavirus testing partnership with the Montgomery County Health Department.
Also under the plan, school cafeterias will remain closed to visitors during lunch periods. The policy mainly applies to parents who come to eat with their children, and the district will discuss handling visits from college and career recruiters, Greiner said.
The plan, which will be posted on the district’s website, keeps in place accommodations for people with disabilities and continues schoolwide handwashing lessons and sanitization procedures.
No capacity limits are placed on extracurricular events, but physical distancing is encouraged. It isn’t known yet whether in-person ticket sales will resume.
In other business, the district later this summer will offer a jump start remediation program. Of the 150 students invited, 40 agreed to participate. The students were identified through NWEA assessments that measure academic progress.
Remediation services will be offered through the school year as the district works to tackle pandemic-related learning loss.
In personnel moves, an additional two elementary school teachers will be hired through federal stimulus funds. Taylor Myers was approved to teach at Ladoga and Samantha Dittmer received approval to teach at Walnut.
The board also approved the hirings of Staci Duncan, learning acceleration director and junior high remediation teacher; Morgan Ross, high school special education teacher; and Krysten Kingery, junior high English teacher.
The following resignations were also accepted: Bart Jochim, high school business teacher; Amanda Williams, junior high math teacher; Pat Myers, junior high social studies teacher; Teresa Ross, junior/senior high choir director, effective July 31; and Lacey Wallace, media specialist, Ladoga Elementary.
This story has been updated to correct the date of the first day of classes.