WHEATFIELD — At the last Kankakee Valley School Board meeting, many patrons present to voice their displeasure over a mask mandate continually asked the school board to disregard mandates from the state regarding COVID-19 protocols.

In an earlier Kougar update that was posed online and sent out via email, the school corporation attempted to answer that question and others, including how close contacts are determined and who must quarantine.

Why must schools follow the Indiana Department of Health Regulations?

School Statute: The following statute requires schools to comply with the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) regulation.

IC 20-26-5-6 Applicability of laws governing state agencies: Sec. 6. All powers delegated to the governing body of a school corporation under section 1 or 4 of this chapter are subject to all laws subjecting the school corporation to regulation by a state agency, including the secretary of education, the state board of accounts, state police department, fire prevention, and building safety commission, department of local government finance, environmental rules board, state school bus committee, state department of health, and any local governmental agency to which the state has been delegated a specific authority in matters other than educational matters and other than educational matters and other than finance, including plan commissions, zoning boards, and boards concerned with health and safety.

How are close contacts determined per the IDOH?

Close Contact Definitions and Guidance: An individual who was within 6 feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The definition applies regardless of whether either person was wearing a mask except in the following situations (which KVSC is not able to do while masks are optional): IF at least 3 feet of separation is provided between students and teachers during the school day when students are in the classroom AND when masks are always worn by all, contact tracing will not need to be completed if there is a positive case identified in the classroom with a minimum of 3 feet of space between classmates and teacher. The decrease to 3 ft for close contact tracing only works IF masks are consistently worn and other mitigation strategies are consistently used.

There should always be a minimum of 3 feet of separation in the classroom with masks to decrease the need to contact trace within the classroom. If you do not mask and distance to at least 3 feet in the classroom during the educational portion of the school day, you must contact trace to 6 feet. These changes DO NOT apply in high-risk classes such as band, orchestra, choir and show choir. They do not apply for athletics, including cheerleading.

Who must quarantine per the Indiana Department of Health?

Quarantine must be used for unvaccinated students, teachers and staff who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Close contacts, identified through contact tracing, should quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated, or have tested positive in the last three months, and do not have any symptoms.

Students, teachers and staff who are in quarantine should stay home and follow the direction of the local public health department about when it is safe for them to be around others.

All fully vaccinated individuals who remain asymptomatic (even if a close contact) do not need to quarantine but should monitor for symptoms throughout the 14 days following their exposure.

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