MCS students not required to quarantine if designated COVID-19 close contacts and not experiencing symptoms

<p>Owen Roberts sits in class, April 16, 2021, in West View Elementary School. All schools in Muncie Community Schools (MCS) have changed their quarantine policies to allow students to continue coming to class if they are designated close contacts of classmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, as long as those close-contact students are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Masks are still required for all staff, faculty and students in MCS at this time. <strong>Andy Klotz, Photo Provided</strong></p>

Owen Roberts sits in class, April 16, 2021, in West View Elementary School. All schools in Muncie Community Schools (MCS) have changed their quarantine policies to allow students to continue coming to class if they are designated close contacts of classmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, as long as those close-contact students are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Masks are still required for all staff, faculty and students in MCS at this time. Andy Klotz, Photo Provided

Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.

Following a Sept. 1 executive order from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Muncie Community Schools (MCS) has updated its quarantine guidelines for students designated close contacts in the classroom of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

MCS announced Sept. 2 it will no longer require students to quarantine if they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, as long as any close contact they had with people who have tested positive occurred in a school setting.

Holcomb's executive order states schools and daycares that enforce mask mandates throughout the day do not have to quarantine students, teachers and staff who are close contacts and aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19, but that schools must continue to contact trace by notifying local health departments, as well as parents, teachers and staff who were in close contact with those who tested positive.

“We are thrilled with the governor’s new executive order,” MCS Director of Public Education and CEO Lee Ann Kwiatkowski said in a Sept. 2 press release. “This will allow our students to stay in school as long as they are symptom-free and keep up on their work. We’ve noticed that the vast majority of close contacts never develop symptoms or test positive, so we believe this is a huge step in the right direction.”

The press release said the new guidelines will allow approximately 200 students who are currently in quarantine as close contacts to return to school beginning Sept. 3.

“While we’re happy to get our students back in school, we need parents to be even more vigilant about monitoring their children’s health,” Kwiatkowski said. “Our parents have been doing a great job with this throughout the pandemic and we expect that will continue.”

MCS will continue to track close contacts and notify parents if their children have been identified as such. The district will also keep posting all COVID-19 statistics and information on its website.

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