BCSC releases COVID-19 counts

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. released information about COVID-19 positive cases and contact tracing Thursday, revealing a very small number since school opened on Aug. 10.

Superintendent Jim Roberts said from Aug. 10 until Thursday, there have been eight positive COVID-19 tests of students and staff members within the BCSC community, but of those eight, only two were actually in school around other individuals, causing the need for BCSC contact tracing.

Nine individuals were identified as "close contacts" of those two individuals based on seating charts, bus charts or other information about extended periods of time the individuals may have been near them, Roberts said. Close contacts may also refer to the individuals’ family members, including siblings.

BCSC has 13,000 people within its community, made up of 11,000 students and an estimated 2,000 employees, which would make the per capita COVID-19 infection rate at 4.4%, a number that is within the green metric for low spread, according to Roberts.

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The school corporation believes this reflects "a pretty good mitigation number" at this point, he said.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek is providing its COVID-19 metric numbers each Friday on its website. In Flat Rock-Hawcreek’s first report, posted this week, the school corporation is reporting no confirmed positive COVID-19 cases.

Every Friday, Flat Rock-Hawcreek will update its website with the number of COVID-19 cases at Hauser Jr./Sr. High School and Hope Elementary, as well as the number of student referrals for "failure to properly wear mask" and "failure to social distance" at both schools. In its most recent update, Flat Rock-Hawcreek reported no positive cases of COVID-19 in its schools. There was one mask-related referral at Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School. So far, there have been no reported referrals for failing to social distance. The next update is expected to be posted today at flatrock.k12.in.us/.

State officials announced Wednesday that Indiana will start matching COVID-19 tests to student records to notify schools of positive cases and create a public dashboard tracking the spread of the coronavirus in schools.

The state aims to launch the public dashboard next month. Schools will be asked to submit numbers daily on new positive cases among students, teachers, and staff, said Dr. Kristina Box, the state’s health commissioner.

The move to publicize COVID-19 cases in schools comes as many students across the state have returned to classrooms this month.

Bartholomew County’s two teachers unions released a statement earlier this week asking BCSC to follow Flat Rock-Hawcreek’s lead and reveal the COVID-19 positive test numbers by school to allow families and staff members to have information about whether to obtain tests for themselves or make decisions about whether to move their students to eLearning.

“We’re encouraged by the decision of our local administration to keep the public informed of outbreaks in our schools,” said Andrea Reed, Flat Rock-Hawcreek Teachers Association president. “As parents are making difficult decisions about how their children will receive the best and safest education this year, they deserve to be fully informed about conditions in our school buildings.”

Public disclosure of COVID-19 cases in local schools was one of three requests made by the teachers associations in a joint statement issued Sunday. The teachers also requested that the County’s COVID-19 Task Force define the community conditions under which a recommendation would be made to switch to virtual learning and that the public be informed as to the extent to which the goals outlined in each school corporation’s reopening plans were being met.

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The Community COVID-19 task force’s statement and summary of spread categories can be found at covid19communitytaskforce.org/news/. Their latest data on community spread can be found at covid19communitytaskforce.org/data/.

BCSC’s statements on COVID-19 may be found at bcscschools.org.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools information will be on the school corporation’s homepage, flatrock.k12.in.us. Other COVID-19 resources from the school corp. can be found at flatrock.k12.in.us/covid-19.