October 27, 2020
DSC Students, Parents and Staff,
Thank you for your efforts in helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently and honoring isolation and quarantine recommendations. We are observing an increase in COVID-19 cases at the local, state and national level. Our medical experts indicate this is likely to continue during the winter months.
Contact Tracing and Quarantine
Each time there is a positive COVID-19 case within our schools, Duneland School Corporation (DSC) staff members conduct contact tracing measures in coordination with the Porter County Health Department (PCHD). To date, PCHD medical experts believe transmission of COVID-19 is not taking place within our schools. Exposures are happening outside of the school setting. As a result, both DSC and PCHD officials believe mitigation efforts are producing the desired result. Moving forward, it is anticipated that additional students and staff members will need to quarantine or isolate due to testing positive for COVID-19 or being designated a ‘close contact’ to someone that has tested positive. In instances where the entire classroom is determined to be in close contact with one another, it is reasonable to expect the entire class and teacher to be quarantined for a period of time. In that instance, it is plausible that the teacher could provide remote instruction to students while in quarantine.
State and Local Metrics
On October 14th, the PCHD adjusted school reentry benchmarks to align with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). Porter County has been back and forth between Blue and Yellow since DSC schools opened on August 28th. It is anticipated that Porter County will enter the ISDH ‘Orange Zone’ on Wednesday, October 28th.
In collaboration with PCHD, DSC will remain at our current Level 3 plan of providing 4-days of in-person instruction per week as long as data indicates that spread of the virus is not being transmitted at school during Orange or Red designations. With that in mind, there may be times in which a one to two-week ‘reset’ at a school building(s) is needed. A reset may be implemented to allow for increased mitigation efforts of students and staff while allowing active cases and/or elevated isolations/quarantines to subside.
School Reset Criteria:
- One (1) percent of the combined total of in-person students and staff have an active COVID-19 case (minimum of four active cases per building) AND/OR
- Evidence that transmission may be happening within the classroom or school and cannot be maintained without school-wide quarantine OR
- DSC is unable to appropriately staff a building due to an elevated number of isolations and/or quarantines impacting employees.
Unless receiving direction from PCHD or ISDH to close a school to prevent the current rate of spread, DSC will continue to operate under the reset criteria listed above during an Orange or Red designation.
Throughout the pandemic, DSC has issued a telephone call to all families of an impacted school and an email to all DSC students, families and staff every time an in-person student or staff member reports a positive test result for COVID-19. Moving forward, DSC will only send out an email to notify students, families and staff of an active case, though those needing to quarantine will be directly contacted. This adjustment is being made to preserve the phone messaging system for school-based emergencies that may need immediate attention or action except for the one-time per week communication sent from the principal of the school. As a reminder, All COVID-19 cases are documented on the DSC website.
Thank you to students, families and staff for following necessary protocols when out in public and around others outside of your immediate household. We must continue to work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Your support is critical for schools to remain open as we move into the winter months.
Dr. Chip Pettit
Superintendent of Schools