Starting on Aug. 17, Beech Grove City Schools implemented an updated set of COVID-19 protocol changes.
“This decision has not been an easy one; however, we started this school year with a commitment to the foundational principle that we would do everything possible to ensure that school is in session every single day in an in-person learning environment.” said Laura Hammack, Superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools, in a press release and letter to parents.
She also said since the start of school on July 28, the school district has had 27 positive COVID-19 cases.
Since the school was not requiring masks at the start, they were required to contact trace using the six feet exposure rule. That rule resulted in 323 students placed under quarantine since the start of the year, translating to 3,230 missed days of school due to the quarantining.
“Our health officials requested that school boards in Marion County implement a 100% mask policy for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students,” Hammack said in her letter. “We understand that the Delta Variant has proven to be highly contagious and the best way to get through the recent surge in cases is to deploy masks for all and to make vaccinations available.”
Using masks allows the contact tracing radius to be three feet rather than six in an effort to not quarantine so many students.
The updated mask policy will be looked at again during fall break to have a reviewed set of protocols.
“We are hopeful that the surge from the Delta Variant will be drastically reduced by that time,” Hammack said in her letter. “If our data indicate that it is safe to return to the Covid-19 protocols that were in place at the start of the school year, we will make that happen.”
Hammack also stressed the importance of vaccination for those who are eligible. BGCC is offering on-site Pfizer brand vaccination clinics on August 31 from 2-5 p.m. at Beech Grove High School.
To help with the wearing of masks all day, Hammack said “mask breaks” will be given to students as they will not be required to wear them outdoors. She also said the schools will have masks available for students in case they do not have one when they get to school. Students are recommended to bring their preferred mask to school.
Hammack ended her letter by saying, “Throughout this pandemic, the students have proven to be the most resilient, flexible, and understanding with necessary protocols. While we are disappointed to return to the mask requirement, we are confident that our Hornets will respond with grace. We all want to get back to normal as soon as possible and our health partners assure us that masking for all is one important strategy that we need to deploy to get us to that condition.”