No changes, yet, in schools mask-wearing status

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SOUTH MADISON COUNTY — With the condition that a change could be made at the drop of a hat, South Madison Community Schools will go into the 2022 portion of the school year with the same COVID-19 protocol prior to Christmas break.

That drop of the hat would be a rise in positive cases at each of the district buildings.

The five schools in the South Madison system resumed classes Monday.

In November, South Madison Schools changed mask-wearing rules from going by county-wide positive rate scores from the Madison County Health Department to scores tabulated from each of its five buildings.

Currently, face coverings are optional in buildings if their positivity rate is under 1 percent across a seven-day period. If the rate becomes greater than 1 percent, masks will be mandatory. If the rate exceeds 2 percent, schools will go back to a virtual learning format.

On Tuesday, South Madison superintendent Mark Hall said the schools are at what has been their normal rate in positive cases, but added it was still early in the week and, as he has experienced throughout the pandemic, things can change quickly.

He said one elementary building had a larger percentage than others and could possibly move above the 1 percent threshold which would make masks mandatory for that building only.

“It seems like the omicron (variant of the virus) is more infectious and there have been more cases, but we have been fortunate with our staff and being able to keep them healthy in vital positions like our bus drivers and cafeteria workers,” Hall said.

“Everybody is in school and everybody is masks optional … today (Tuesday).”

Hall added one change in that, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recent adoption of shorter quarantine times, they have lowered their isolation period to five days.

Masks are still mandatory on school buses. The federal mandate on public transportation was recently extended to March 18, 2022.

Lapel schools were scheduled to resume classes today (Thursday, Jan. 6).

Grant for schools

Both school systems were recently notified of being recipients of the Indiana Department of Education’s Summer of Learning grant.

The IDOE Office of Digital Learning recently announced 14 school systems would be recipients of the 2022 Summer of Learning Conference Series Grant.

South Madison and Lapel Schools were among five Madison County school systems that will get the grants.

The grant will allow area school corporations to host a joint summer conference focused on technology-enhanced instruction on learning recovery, STEM, literacy and digital learning.

“The Summer of Learning Conference will be a great opportunity for educators to experience technology enhanced STEM, digital learning and literacy skills, as well as learning recovery techniques,” Frankton-Lapel Community Schools assistant superintendent Sterling Boles said. “The county schools collaboration in providing this opportunity will guarantee a great learning experience for all attendees.”

The conference is set for June 1-2, 2022 at Highland Middle School in Anderson. Additional details, including registration information and sponsorship opportunities, will be made available in the coming weeks.

“The district leadership, including the superintendents, central office administrators, building principals, and coaches are truly committed and excited to hold this conference,” said Dr. Laura Miller, Assistant Superintendent at South Madison Community Schools. “Each school corporation has a strong commitment to student growth, alignment of instruction to meet Indiana goals, and to the past Summer of eLearning conferences.”

Since 2019, the Summer of Learning, formerly eLearning, grant has supported 19 conferences throughout the state, providing opportunities for more than 8,000 Indiana educators to learn about teaching and learning in technology-rich environments.

Alexandria Community Schools, Anderson Community Schools and Elwood Community Schools were the other Madison County school systems awarded a grant.

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