A Wednesday announcement from Gov. Eric Holcomb that he would be signing an executive order requiring Hoosiers to wear masks to blunt the spread of the coronavirus has prompted some area school districts to revise their reopening plans.
“Due to Governor’s order today, July 22, 2020, PCS will be modifying the Re-Entry Plan to comply,” read an update posted on the school corporation’s website. “Masks will be required by all staff and students as of July 27th, 2020, except students below 3rd grade, which will be highly encouraged.”
That notice came less than 24 hours after the Peru School Board, in a Tuesday night meeting, approved a reopening plan that did not mandate masks but rather said they would be “highly recommended.”
Holcomb said his order, which goes into effect on Monday, will require Hoosiers to wear face coverings “during specific times and in specific places.”
The mandate, he said, will apply to anyone 8 years old or over “when you are in public indoor spaces or commercial entities.” It will also apply to those using public transportation or those in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.
In schools, the mandate will apply to students in third grade and above and apply to staff and volunteers as well. Masks in school settings will also be required for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities with exceptions made for “strenuous physical activity.”
Exceptions in public will also be made for those medical purposes, strenuous activity and for eating and drinking.
Masks are “strongly recommended” for children ages 2 to 7.
The mandate will also force a change at North Miami Schools where the published re-entry plan also only recommended masks rather than making them mandatory.
“We will make an adjustment,” Superintendent Kenneth Hanson told the Tribune on Thursday.
Hanson and other superintendents said earlier this month that they expected the plans for re-opening to be “fluid” as the situation with the virus that causes COVID-19 changes.
Re-evaluating the plan as the corporation approaches its Aug. 11 start date will likely be a “week-by-week” endeavor, Hanson said Thursday.
“We’ve got a little bit later start date, which is helpful,” he said.
Peru students return to class on Aug. 6.
At Maconaquah, the first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 3.
Superintendent James Callane said Thursday that Holcomb’s announcement earlier in the week won’t change much for them.
“We had required masks,” he said.
That, according to the school corporation’s plan applied to buses and hallways and classrooms when students couldn’t be socially distanced.
“Well, yesterday they said 3 to 6 feet,” Callane said of details of the mandate discussed in the Governor’s press briefing. “Which we think we can do.”