How Our Local Schools Plan on Starting the Fall Semester in the Middle of a Pandemic

Here in America, and across the world, we’ve been dealing with a Coronavirus pandemic since January, and now, in the middle of the July, the cases continue to spread, as public officials and local school boards try to figure out if or how schools will reopen for the fall. While colleges and universities across the state of Indiana have released detailed plans for how students will continue their studies in the fall, we’re still waiting to get official plans from a lot of elementary, middle, and high schools, including from some of our schools here in Grant County.

The CDC released guidelines in May for schools to follow, should they choose to have students, teachers, and staff return to school in person. The CDC states that the course of action that presents the lowest amount of risk would be to provide students with virtual learning, which they can partake in from home, much like what schools did when stay-at-home orders went into effect in March.

If schools decide to restart school in person, the CDC gives the following recommendations:

  • Reduce the number of students per classroom
  • Have students stay with the same teacher throughout the entire day
  • Students and staff should stay home when appropriate, such as when they are sick or when they’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Encourage good hygiene, encourage frequent hand washing, make hand sanitizer readily available
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, do not use a hand
  • Require cloth face coverings for any child over the age of two, especially in situations where social distancing is not feasible
  • Create as much space between students and teachers as possible, ideally the six-foot distance encouraged by the CDC
  • Help educate and remind students about how to reduce the spread of COVID-19
  • Bolster cleaning and disinfecting measures
  • Discourage sharing of objects between students
  • Encourage students to bring their own lunch, when possible, and eat in classrooms, distanced from one another
  • Close off communal spaces, including cafeterias and playgrounds
  • Consider staggered schedules

These are not all of the recommendations made by the CDC, but the entire list can be found on the CDC website.

At this point, it seems most schools are working on their own pandemic response plans, and those plans do vary slightly.

Here is the information we have so far received for how our local schools (both in Grant County and in surrounding areas) will reopen this year. We will continue to update the information for each school as additional details become available, so please check this post frequently.

Marion Community School Corporation:

  • Fall semester will start on August 5th
  • Virtual, online learning will be available to Marion students
  • There will be early release August 5th-7th to help improve cleaning and disinfecting efforts (Grades K-4 at 1:30, Grades 5-12 at 2:45)
  • Days and times will remain normal for the rest of the school year
  • Try to avoid student dentist or doctor appointments during the school day, so kids aren’t going in and out of the building
  • Grades 5-12 will use block scheduling, to reduce amount of passing periods
    (four periods a day; classes meet every other day except for 7th period, which will meet every day as a home room or advisory period)
  • Temporary building closures may occur throughout the year, and at-home instruction will be utilized
  • Students and/or staff may be asked to quarantine, especially if they’ve tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Students are expected to have a mask with them at all times, even if they don’t wear it at all times
  • Hand washing will be strongly encouraged, and students will also be given access to hand sanitizer
  • Staff will be trained to recognize COVID-19 symptoms
  • Social distancing will be enforced: there will be spaced, assigned seating; one-way hallway traffic; and either floor or wall markings to help keep distance between one another
  • Elementary students will be in the same room all day, and teachers will switch rooms as necessary
  • Elementary students will stay with the same group of students throughout the school day
  • Bottled water will be available to students, and/or they can bring their own water bottle to school
  • Volunteers and visitors will not be allowed in school buildings unless it is absolutely essential and/or previous scheduled
  • There will be a designated isolation room in each building for students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the day
  • Students, parents, and staff are asked to please screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily
  • There will be assigned seating during lunch, to promote social distancing
  • Elementary students will eat breakfast in their classrooms, and grades 5-12 will receive breakfast as “grab-and-go”
  • NO students, including seniors, will be allowed to leave the building for lunch
  • Parents are encouraged to transport their children to and from school whenever possible
  • Seats on buses will be assigned by putting students together in groups, depending on their stops
  • School dismissal will be staggered, to promote social distancing
  • Students will still have recess, and it will be outside as much as possible – playground equipment will be cleaned between recess groups
  • All athletics will adhere to guidelines set by IHSAA, IDOE, and ISDH / CDC
  • Additional information on Marion Community School’s reopening plan can be found at https://www.marion.k12.in.us/onsite-learning-plan-2020-21

Mississinewa Community Schools:

  • Information is not yet available

Eastbrook Community Schools

  • Fall semester will start on August 11th
  • Virtual, online schooling is available to Eastbrook students
  • Will not require students to wear masks, but the school does recommend it
  • Students and staff should have a mask on their person at all times
  • Will allow children to still have recess
  • Plexiglass panels will be used in specific areas to protect students and staff
  • There will be changes to attendance policies, lunch schedules, passing periods, dismissal times, and transportation procedures
  • Visitors will not be allowed in school buildings for the time being
  • Students and staff are expected to self-screen daily and stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • There will be a designated isolation room in case someone begins showing COVID-19 symptoms during the day
  • Lunches will be pre-packaged when possible to prevent students standing in cafeteria lines
  • Cleaning efforts will be bolstered, students will be asked to wipe down desks at the end of classes
  • HVAC systems will run constantly to increase air flow, and windows will be opened when possible
  • Many classes will be moved into larger spaces when possible, including outside
  • It’s recommended that gym classes take place outside as much as possible and not use shared/highly touched objects
  • Band classes will be split into smaller groups, which will practice throughout the day
  • Students are asked to not congregate in between classes, and hallway traffic will be regulated
  • More information on Eastbrook’s reopening plan can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ht2Pj1QbPthp9VwRVZLcYbDNr0hdV3WwgMKgyeE38PI/edit

Oak Hill United School Corporation

  • Students and staff will be trained on COVID-19 symptoms and must self-screen daily
  • If a student or staff member has a fever of 100.4F, they must stay home
  • Must be fever free (without the use of medications) for 72 hours before returning to school
  • Must wait 10 days after the onset of symptoms before returning to school
  • The school has the right to inquire as to whether or not illness of student or staff exhibits symptoms of COVID-19
  • The school also has the right to take temperatures of students and staff at any time, sometimes randomly
  • Will not require masks, but will encourage them
  • There will be a designated room for students or staff who begin to show symptoms at school
    Those showing symptoms will be required to wear a cloth face covering while waiting for someone to pick them up
  • The nurse’s office will still operate as usual to treat non-COVID symptoms or injuries
  • If there is a positive COVID-19 case, Oak Hill will work with the local health department to determine next steps
  • The school may be closed at times to deep clean and disinfect the building
  • If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they must have two negative tests before they can return to school
  • To promote social distancing, class sizes will be smaller; traffic in hallways will be regulated; the number of passing periods will be reduced; students will have assigned seating in desks that have been distanced from one another
  • Hand washing will be greatly encouraged, and specific times will be set aside throughout the day to wash hands — hand sanitizer will also be used
  • Water fountains will not be available for use
  • Water bottles will be available for students, and they may bring their own water bottles from home
  • The school will make efforts to reduce to number of high-touch objects, as well as shared supplies

Madison-Grant United School Corporation

  • Information is not yet available

Blackford County Schools

  • Reopen date is August 5th
  • Masks are not required but encouraged
  • Students will have assigned seating in the school
  • Students will have assigned seating on buses, students from the same family will share seats
  • Students and parents are expected to self-screen
  • Anyone with a fever of 100.4F or higher will be asked to stay home
  • If someone is exposed to the virus, they need to quarantine for 14 days
  • Must be fever free for 72 hours before returning to school
  • Perfect attendance encouragement is temporarily suspended
  • Students or staff who are feeling ill will be taken to an isolated room to be evaluated
  • Hand washing will be encouraged, and hand sanitizer will be provided
  • Water fountains should not be used
  • Cleaning and disinfecting efforts will be increased, including throughout the school day
  • Virtual learning will be available to students with increased risk or family members with increased risk, or to those not comfortable returning
  • Additional information can be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w5f-fyiXYgmOjqUG_oOk7889FyAqpAlT/view

Wabash County Schools

  • Staff in all schools will be trained on COVID-19 symptoms and protocols
  • Families are encouraged to self-screen for possible COVID-19 symptoms
  • Anyone showing possible symptoms (including a fever over 100F) should not be present in any school
  • Everyone will be required to be free of any fever for at least 72 hours before returning to school
  • Students are required to have a mask with them at all times, whether they are wearing it or not
  • The State of Indiana will be providing masks for students
  • All students will have assigned seating throughout the day to help provide social distancing
  • Schedules will also be staggered to help provide social distancing
  • Cafeteria capacity will be limited
  • Attendance policies will be temporarily suspended
  • Students will be encouraged to wash their hands during transitional periods, and hand sanitizer will be readily available
  • Water fountains will be shut off, and students are encouraged to bring their own water bottle
  • There will be designated isolation locations in case someone in the school exhibits COVID-19 symptoms
  • Cleaning and disinfecting efforts will be bolstered
  • If someone turns out to be positive, all rooms that person visited must be closed and deep cleaned
  • It is possible the school may need to temporarily shut down in order to disinfect the building

As stated above, this post will be updated as more information becomes available from all county schools, so be sure to check back.


Update 7/15/2020 at 9:30am:

Early this morning, the Grant County schools released a joint statement for all the families they serve.

Here is the statement in its entirety.


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