New CDC recommendations come hours before school begins

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday came just hours before some students walk into a classroom for the first time, including in Wayne Township.

They were a surprise even to school administrators who are in a tough spot with less than a day to plan. Henri Kowalczyk’s son will be a freshman at Ben Davis.

“It’s tough to think about that somebody might not be vaccinated next to my son for sure,” Kowalczyk said.

Wayne school officials sent out their third set of mask rules in just two weeks Tuesday, a reaction in part to new CDC guidance in which CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, “CDC recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors, regardless of action, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.”

Wayne schools are not going that far. Younger students will be able to take their mask off when they are their classroom pods of five or six, socially distant from other classroom pods.

“Because we know that’s better for learning, better for mental health and their social and emotional wellbeing,” Wayne Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts said.

Older students will be seated alphabetically.

Masks are recommended for everyone but only required for those not vaccinated. Masks must be worn on buses and when in the hallways and other common areas.

“I’ve had phone calls, an equal number of phone calls on both sides of the issue,” Butt said. “In May, I was hoping we wouldn’t have this discussion in August.”

Unlike some districts, Wayne schools is not requiring people show proof of vaccination before they can remove their mask unless students want to avoid quarantining if they’re determined to be a close contact.

Kowalcyzk wishes that was different, comparing it to other required vaccinations.

“I think it would be a good idea to ask to prove that you had a vaccine,” Kowalcyzk said.

Still, even while his son may be vaccinated, he still worries.

“Oh yeah. All the time. But we’ve done what we can. We just hope others do what they can to help us out,” Kowalcyzk said.

Every school district is doing things just a little bit differently.

WISH-TV reached out to a number of district and ,most said it was a little too early for them to respond.

Lawrence Township released this statement:

“We welcome guidance from the CDC with regard to the safe operation of schools. Lawrence Township has been in lockstep with the local health department since day one of the pandemic back in March of 2020 and we intend to continue down that line. With regard to masks as we prepare to welcome students for the 21-22 school year, they are part of a layered approach to COVID-19 mitigation, including enhanced cleaning protocols, frequent handwashing, and social distancing. Please understand that that district DOES want our students in masks, which is why they have been strongly recommended in all communications. Our position and wording protocols simply mirror that of the local health department.

We recognize that things could change at any time given the unpredictability of the pandemic and we will respond immediately in partnership with area medical experts, as we have all along.

The MSD of Lawrence Township is also in a position to accommodate unique situations through our CONNECT LT program offering hybrid and virtual learning opportunities to students. While we asked families to select their intended instructional delivery method in May, adjustments can still be made in communication with a building administrator.

At the end of the day, we are ready to have our students back in buildings and our teachers are ready to teach.


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