VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - The state of Indiana released COVID-19 guidance Friday morning regarding re-entry to schools. As we’ve reported, Governor Holcomb’s executive order allows schools to re-open on July 1st. Schools here in Vigo County are ready to take the next steps in planning to welcome students safely in the fall.
The 38-page document is labeled, “Indiana's Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools", or IN-CLASS guidance for short. Communications Director for Vigo County Schools Bill Riley shared his reaction and how the school corporation plans now to move forward.
Riley says they received the document Friday morning just like everybody else. The document’s purpose is to provide all Indiana schools with guidance for preparing school operations under the COVID-19 environment.
“What we do know is that the document is not very prescriptive," Riley said, "While it offers some guardrails and some concepts and some things to think about—there are definitely no mandates in there.”
It states schools must understand two key factors: the school’s ability to maintain a safe and healthy school environment and the prevalence of COVID-19 in their community. In other words, decisions on guidelines may vary by area.
Riley says it’s going to be a lot of work internally to review the guidelines. He says officials value all input from staff and parents, and they will also collaborate with local pediatricians and the Vigo county health department.
“We definitely want parent input. We definitely want those perspectives," Riley said, "What are we seeing here locally in Vigo County that tells us how we need to respond to this document? What are the things in there that we need to think about in terms of our particular local community?”
Riley explained what Vigo County Schools are considering when planning for the safe return to school.
Riley says there are still so many unknowns regarding COVID-19 and a lot can change in two months. He says they are in constant communication with the Vigo County health department because COVID-19 information changes so rapidly.
He says they have been thinking about groups that they are potentially concerned about. These include staff over 65 or with pre-existing health conditions, students with food insecurity, or who are receiving special education, those who participate in extracurricular activities, and concerns with transportation. Riley says they have a lot of work ahead internally to see how Vigo county's situation fits in with the state's plan.
"There is a complex host of needs in our community. It will certainly take some time to assess that," Riley concluded, "It's our hope to offer a flexible solution for our families so everybody can see themselves in our plan."
Riley says later this month, parents should be ready to receive and respond to a survey. Again, they want input from many different places regarding schools opening back up. He says we should see a plan to return to school by July.