Southwest Allen County Schools updated its quarantine option chart Tuesday to reflect revised recommendations from federal and state health officials with the knowledge it will likely change again soon.
Superintendent Park Ginder told the board it includes two notable differences: students can return to class two days sooner compared to previous rules, and they no longer need a negative COVID-19 test for early return.
One parent in the audience wanted answers the revised coronavirus policies didn't address.
“I'd like to see some proactivity to what's going to happen if we run out of teachers,” said Morgan Comsia, a kindergarten parent. “What's going to happen when school bus drivers aren't there? What's going to happen when my kid's class is down to less than 50%? I want to see proactivity rather than reactivity, and the entire system has been reactive for the last 18-plus months.”
Allen County public school students began returning to classrooms Tuesday amid a COVID-19 surge that has pushed the average local daily case count past 400 for the first time since 2020. The health department reported 548 new infections and 15 new deaths Tuesday.
Elsewhere in Indiana, the coronavirus has altered districts' January plans. The Metropolitan School District of Pike Township in Marion County switched to remote instruction this week because of illnesses and required isolation periods. In northwest Indiana, School City of Hammond shifted to e-learning this week, also because of COVID-19 cases.
At the SACS meeting, audience member Sue Ringquist pushed back against a regular attendee's skepticism about masks and vaccines. Strategies to reduce the spread of disease aren't working because people gave up, she said.
“Go into the ER,” Ringquist said, noting her husband is an emergency room doctor. “The numbers are insane.”
The agenda included the wording “report on and action on” regarding the return to classroom plan, but board President Bradley Mills said a vote wasn't necessary because the superintendent has the authority to make timely changes. Ginder noted the district has been advised more revisions could happen as soon as this week.
Mills thanked the SACS community for discussing the topic civilly.
“It's obviously charged on both sides,” he said. “I understand there are people who are very fearful of this virus. That fear is absolutely real, and we need to recognize that. There are people who feel ... it's a rights thing. I appreciate your comments from both sides.”