Indiana schools may stop masking and reporting COVID-19 cases soon
Indiana schools may stop masking and reporting COVID-19 cases soon

Indiana schools may stop masking and reporting COVID-19 cases soon

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana schools and child care programs will no longer have to perform contact tracking or report COVID-19 cases to the state Department of Health from next Wednesday, state officials said Thursday.

Students who are exposed to a COVID-19 case should also not be quarantined, regardless of their vaccination status or whether their schools require masks.

Schools are still expected to work with local health departments in the event of an outbreak or a cluster, officials said. Information should also be shared with students’ families when a case is identified so that parents can monitor their children for symptoms.

“These changes reflect the rapid decline in COVID-19 cases as we emerge from the omicron rise and the fact that all school-age children have been eligible to be vaccinated since November,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, in a statement. “While not eliminating the need for continued vigilance, they will ease the reporting burden on schools and help ensure that children can stay in school.”

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration will also lift the quarantine requirements for children exposed to their child care program.

Children who test positive for COVID-19 will be advised to isolate themselves at home for five days, regardless of whether they show symptoms. It is recommended that children who can wear a mask correctly and consistently return on the sixth day. Those who can not will be able to return on the eighth day.

The State Department of Health also updated its guidelines for individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and recommended that they isolate themselves for five days. Normal activities can be resumed on the sixth day if a person has been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and as long as the symptoms get better.

Anyone who tests positive should wear a mask every time they are around others in their home or in public for at least 10 days, according to the state Department of Health.

State health officials said less demand for testing and increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment justifies the reduced COVID-19 response.

In response to a reduced demand for testing, the state Department of Health said it will close its testing and vaccination clinic to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Feb. 26.

The Indiana National Guard’s support for long-term care facilities and hospitals ends March 14, and no new requests will be accepted after Feb. 26, health ministry officials said.

The State Department of Health will also suspend its test and vaccination strike teams that have been deployed across the state, but will continue to make mobile vaccination and testing units available upon request.

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