Is Monroe County School Corporation Discriminating against Students who do not have the Covid Vaccines?

On January 21, the Indiana Department Health issued new guidance for schools. Schools with a mask mandate do not have to contract trace and quarantine students who were in close contact with a person who tested positive for covid-19 unless they become symptomatic. The Health Department even created a sample letter for schools to send to parents which is listed at the end of this.

What did Monroe County School Corporation in Bloomington do? They did not follow the advice of the IN Department of Health. Instead, they changed their policy to focus on students and student family members that have not received the covid-19 vaccines. Please read their letter and see the portions in bold that are concerning.

They recommend everyone to wear N95 or KN95 masks even though those are not available or medically recommended for children. There is no reason to push those type of masks on little children who are at statistically at zero chance of dying from catching covid. Los Angeles schools started requiring only N95 or KN95 masks for students, and Bloomington public schools seem eager to follow the same crazy restrictions.

They are going to continue to contract trace close contacts, but only for the unvaccinated. Additionally, even if the student without the covid vaccines is asymptomatic, they have to provide a negative covid test before being able to return after 5 days. If they cannot provide a negative covid test, their quarantine is much longer.

THIS IS NOT WHAT THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH RECOMMENDED TO SCHOOLS.

This is an effort to coerce parents into vaccinating their children to avoid the unnecessary removal from school for those families that do not comply. But Monroe County Schools aren’t stopping at just the student’s vaccination status. They want to know all household members vaccination status and other contacts outside the home vaccination status to determine the close contact rule for removal from school.

They have had so many complaints about their dictatorship-type policies, that the corporation created a specific hotline to call about it. But that is not going to do anything except ruin some low paid person who answers the call center phones day who doesn’t make any decisions.

Let’s go straight to the top, the Superintendent who is telling everyone in all caps to get vaccinated while referring issues with the policy to the call center.

JHAUSWALD@MCCSC.EDU

812-330-7700

  • PHONE EXTENSION:40008

Tell Superintendent Hauswald, that treating healthy students differently based on the covid vaccine status is unacceptable. Treating students differently based on unvaccinated household contacts is a privacy invasion. Monroe county schools need to follow the current IN Dept of Health guidelines and remove quarantine due to having their mask mandate in place.



January 25, 2022

Dear MCCSC Students, Families & Staff,

Tonight, the MCCSC Board of School Trustees approved significant changes to our COVID-19 Re-Entry Procedures.  These new procedures are a result of rapidly-changing realities and understandings associated with the COVID-19 variants and a recognition that due to the number of cases and staffing limits, maintaining our current procedures has become impossible.  Underlying these decisions is a clear desire to keep our schools open to in-person learning and to maximize the time by which students can attend in-person instruction while simultaneously maintaining safety procedures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. 

In order to fulfill these two goals simultaneously, our students, staff and visitors MUST continue to wear masks.  We encourage you to adhere to federal officials’ guidelines that surgical-style disposable masks, as well as top grade N95 or KN95 respirators, provide more protection to the wearer than cloth masks. MCCSC is working to quickly provide additional higher-quality masks to those who need one.   If these masks are not possible, identifying better-designed cloth masks, including those with multi-layered cloth materials, are better.  Information on where to obtain free N95 masks and a link to videos on effective mask wearing can be found on MCCSC’s COVID-19 Information and Impact Page.

Second, MCCSC continues to remind our community that FDA-approved vaccines, including boosters, are highly effective at preventing COVID-19.  Many of the situations in which students and staff are temporarily removed from school can be avoided with full vaccination.  We understand that situations exist where vaccinations are not possible.  However, we ask those who are eligible to speak to their personal physician about vaccinations.  More information on vaccines, including locations, can be found at www.ourshot.in.gov.

Important changes to our COVID-19 protocols are outlined within this letter and have come as a recommendation from district administration on behalf of a working group of school health officials, administrators, county health and experts in medicine and public health.  A more complete description of COVID-19 changes approved tonight can be found in the “Covid-19 Information and Impact Page”.

SUMMARY:
•    Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to return to school after isolating for five days if they receive a negative lab antigen test and their symptoms are resolved or resolving. 
•    Our contact tracers will prioritize the highest risk cases for notification. 
•    An unvaccinated individual who is notified that they have been identified as a close contact will be required to quarantine, but may return to school after five days if they have no symptoms AND can provide the results of a negative lab antigen test or a negative home antigen test. •    For many single symptoms, students will be allowed to return the next day without testing.

Prioritizing Higher Risk Cases for Contact Tracing: MCCSC officials will now prioritize case investigations and general contact tracing procedures focusing on notifying positive cases and people at highest levels of risk. This prioritization seeks to ensure that those with the highest risk levels are contacted in a timely manner.   
   
Dedicated staff will attempt to reach as many individuals as possible; however, circumstances may arise where it is not possible to contact trace all lower-risk individuals.

When notified, some close contacts will still be required to quarantine.  Situations that require quarantine are: unvaccinated household close contacts, unvaccinated close contacts at school, and unvaccinated outside-of-school self-reported close contacts.

Updated Return to School Procedures after Isolation for Positive COVID-19:
(Please note, for each of the scenarios below, the first day of symptoms or a positive test is Day 0.)
•    If asymptomatic OR no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms improving, an individual may return no sooner than Day 6 with a negative lab antigen test performed no sooner than Day 5.  Must wear well-fitting mask upon return.
•    If test cannot be obtained OR if symptomatic on Day 5, an individual may return on Day 11.
•    Cardiac clearance is required for student athletes returning from Post-COVID isolation in accordance with IHSAA guidelines.

Updated Return to School Procedures after Quarantine for Close Contacts:
•    Unvaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts who can follow “enhanced precautions” through Day 14 (see MCCSC “enhanced precautions” on the COVID-19 Information and Impact page at www.mccsc.edu), may return on Day 6 from last exposure if a negative test is performed no sooner than Day 5.  (Lab antigen test preferred, home antigen test accepted when lab antigen tests are not readily accessible.) To expedite a student’s return, proof of the test result (such as a photo) should be provided directly to the school office prior to return.
•    Unvaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts who cannot obtain a negative test result but who can follow “enhanced precautions” through Day 14, may return on Day 11 without a test.
•    Unvaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts who cannot obtain a negative test result and who cannot follow “enhanced precautions” through Day 14, may return on Day 15.

•    All students who return to school after a quarantine may participate in extra-curricular activities with a mask through Day 14.   


Finally, based upon new information regarding optimal data for understanding current COVID-19 realities, and an inability to accurately provide current COVID-19 data at the school and/or district level, we will stop updating the MCCSC COVID-19 Impact Chart and other direct reports of general COVID-19 data on the Corporation website.  Updates to the COVID Impact Chart may resume in the future or the COVID Impact Chart may be redesigned with new information.

Thank you, again, for your continued support during these challenging times.  Additional information regarding these changes and other COVID-19 protocols may be found on the website at www.mccsc.edu.  For individual questions, please contact your child’s school office, or contact the MCCSC “Call Center” at (812) 349-4757 or email callcenter@mccsc.edu.  Most importantly, please continue to stay safe: Check for symptoms daily – If you are sick, stay home. Wear a high-quality mask. Continue to follow social distancing protocols. And, PLEASE get vaccinated if you are able

Dr. Jeff Hauswald
Superintendent

———————————————————–

THIS IS THE EXAMPLE LETTER THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDS SCHOOLS TO SEND TO PARENTS

NEW FROM THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Contact Tracing and Reporting

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is seeking to reduce the contact tracing and reporting burden for schools with mask requirements in place. Schools should continue to notify parents of a positive case in the classroom and reinforce mitigation strategies at school and home. To assist with this, a sample letter for parents can be found here. Emphasize to families the need to monitor for symptoms and keep students home who become symptomatic. Effective Friday, January 21, schools with mask requirements in place that have positive cases will only need to report the following to the IDOH K-12 portal:

· Positive Case First and Last Name

· Date of Birth

· Sex

· Category (student, staff, teacher)

· Date reported to school

· Race

· Ethnicity

Schools that do not have a mask requirement in place must continue to report both positive cases and close contacts, as well as all associated fields, to the IDOH K-12 portal. For questions, please contact backtoschool@isdh.in.gov.

This is their example letter that schools can send out to parents per the Indiana Department of Health’s recommendations:

Dear Parent,

You are being notified that your student was in class today with an individual who is positive for COVID-19. Because we require masks during the school day, your student does not need to quarantine.

However, we ask that you monitor your student for symptoms of illness for the next 10 days and do not send your student to school if they are ill or become symptomatic. If symptoms develop, keep your student home, and obtain a COVID test.

If the COVID test is positive – your student should remain at home for at least 5 full days (may return on Day 6) as long their symptoms have improved, and they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications such as Tylenol or Motrin. Please keep your student home even after 5 full days if they are still experiencing symptoms.

If the COVID test is negative – your student should remain at home until their symptoms are improved and they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications such as Tylenol or Motrin. If your student is still sick 24 hours or more after a negative COVID test, consider getting a COVID PCR available at sites throughout the state. Visit https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/covid-19-testing-information/ to locate a testing site near you.

Please contact (insert contact information here) at (insert school name here) if you have additional questions.

Thank you,

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