Local News

Shelbyville, Northwestern Consolidated among schools adapting to changes to quarantining, contact tracing

As Shelby County schools continue to get more insight from the State Department of Health, local educators continue to refine their plans for students and faculty in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic. 


Superintendents from both Northwestern Consolidated and Shelbyville Central Schools have told Giant FM their plans, which are outlined by the CDC, State Department of Health and the Shelby County Health Department, and comes on the heels of the State Department of Health relaxing quarantine and contract tracing expectations. 


One of the biggest changes is quarantining and contact tracing will no longer be mandatory if students and teachers remain at least 3 feet apart and are wearing a mask at all times. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said quarantining should occur with exposures that will take place at lunch, athletics or extra curricular activities or if students and staff have removed masks.  In addition, schools will receive rapid tests and the state health department will send out more than a million KN95 masks for teachers and 600,000 children's masks and hand sanitizer.


Northwestern Consolidated Schools superintendent Chris Hoke welcomes the changes.


"The reduction in quarantine time period is helpful in returning students identified as 'close contacts' back to the classroom.  It has been enthusiastically embraced by our parents who want their children in school," Hoke said.  


As for the tests, Hoke said staff is educating themselves on the tests. 


"Our intent would be to utilize them for staff only if at all.   We are still going about the process of learning what they are, how they would work, what training is necessary and what protocols are needed.   It was not something that we were aware of being considered by the state prior to the announcement.  We were a bit surprised and  there is a lot to understand and unpack before we make a definitive decision," Hoke told Giant FM.


Shelbyville Central Schools Superintendent Mary Harper tells Giant FM her district began adhering to the three feet for contact tracing on Feb. 8. 


However, the change does not include high risk situations such as athletics, bus, lunch, band, choir, show group or elementary music classes if singing. 


"For now, we are allowing staff to come back on day 8 as allowed by the CDC and Indiana State Department of Health," said Harper. 


Harper added that Shelbyville will be going to the following guidelines for a shorter quarantine period: 


After 7 days of quarantine with a COVID test IF (return to school on day 8):

PCR nasal swab on day 5, 6, or 7 is negative OR Antigen (rapid) test on day 8 is negative Staff returning must provide negative test results. Antigen tests must be CLIA approved.

Individual has never developed symptoms

Individual wears mask correctly at all times upon his/her return

The positive individual and the close contact had to be masked at the time of exposure


After 10 days of quarantine without a test IF (return to school on day 11):

Individual has never developed symptoms

Individual wears mask correctly at all times upon their return

Individual may NOT participate in athletics or extra-curricular activities if the activities require them to remove their mask  (IHSAA doc updated 1/26/21). 

The positive individual and the close contact had to be masked at the time of exposure


For middle and high school students only, they will be brought back to school in the 11th day, and Harper says students must be separated by at least six feet at lunch and cannot remove their masks during extra-curricular or athletic events and must maintain a distance of 6 feet if all parties are not wearing a mask . 


In addition, Harper tells Giant FM, corporation nurse Michelle Herbert, is now overseeing the training on how to administer Covid tests, as well as developing a district protocol on when they will be used. 


"Once health clinic staff members have been trained, we will begin administering the antigen tests to staff. At this time, we are not ready to administer the BinaxNow Cards to students," Harper said.