BCSC recommending masks be optional in schools

Students arrive at Columbus East High School on the first day of school in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

The new school year could see students and staff in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. no longer required to wear masks in most situations.

On Thursday, Superintendent Jim Roberts released a statement about BCSC’s COVID-19 recommendations for the 2021-22 school year and a link to a reopening plan draft. In the release, Roberts said that school officials are recommending that the use of face coverings be optional for all students and staff. He added that masks are “highly encouraged for those at risk and/or not vaccinated.”

However, masks will still be required on buses due to a federal mandate on public transportation, the draft plan states. The mandate is set to expire on Sept. 13, 2021, at which point masking on buses will become optional.

Roberts added that there will be a presentation on reopening at the school board’s July 19 meeting.

He also included a link to a Google Form for feedback and expressed a desire to hear the public’s thoughts on the reopening plan draft.

“Feedback from our stakeholders will be used to determine what revisions, if any, are necessary for the plan prior to its being formally recommended to our school board members for approval,” he said.

In addition to the optional masking policy, BCSC’s reopening plan draft also states that for social distancing, classroom spacing of three feet is “encouraged” and locker use is “discouraged to minimize large group gatherings.”

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will report their results to the school nurse. Contact tracing will be implemented with a 10-day quarantine.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.