The 2021-2022 school year is opening with many new opportunities when it comes to the protocol in regards to COVID-19. The previous year was unprecedented with the virus integrating itself into everyday school life. Though this year has allowed for more flexibility with students and their options, the Delta Variant threatens to change the way this year is ran as well.
Protocol last year consisted of strict rules in regards to mask mandates and seating in classrooms and the lunchroom. With the lowering of cases due to COVID vaccines and past efforts, the protocol has become more lax. However, the Delta Variant opens the door to possibly going back to safety measures such as mask mandates and separated seating.
LPHS principal Dr. Alber, though stating that decisions on these kinds of things go through the Indiana Department of Health and CDC guidelines, mentioned that nothing is off the table in regards to keeping students and staff safe.
“Could there be a mask mandate? I think that would be more likely if we were in orange or red, but again, a lot of that information comes from the Indiana Department of Health and its recommendations, our local health department, and the superintendent and school boards,” Alber said.
Orange and red programming refers to the Indiana COVID-19 Data Report. Each county is given a color, the best being blue and the worst being red, in regards to the number of people infected by the virus and the positivity rate in each county. Currently, there aren’t any counties below yellow in Indiana, and recently, the numbers have been getting worse.
Alber insisted that changes in the middle of the school year are not taken lightly, but changes might need to be made if cases continue to rise and the county goes into the orange and red. He stated the preference is to have traditional learning and encouraged all students and staff to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
Though the current protocol is to stay in-person school no matter the color of the county, there is a possibility that students and staff could go back to eLearning, even if that is the last resort. If that does become a reality, Alber will encourage the use of Zoom calls, though they are not mandatory for the entirety of the class period. Additionally, students will be required to follow the bell schedule similarly to eLearning last year.
The school board and school administration wants to make sure that students, staff, and parents are all aware that there is full transparency in regards to COVID-19 and its protocol. On the school webpage, the COVID-19 information is updated daily with the number of cases and the number of students in quarantine around the district and a direct link to the district plan.
Hopefully, the opportunities that this new year was expected to bring can continue and cases begin to decrease. Keep an eye on the websites provided for updated information on any COVID-19 related information.