CLARK COUNTY — Masks are required for the next month in Borden-Henryville School Corp. as the district adjusts to updated COVID-19 quarantine policies.
Monday was the first day of the district’s new mask requirement for students and staff, which was adopted by the school board at last Thursday’s meeting. Previously, masks had been optional since the beginning of the school year.
Borden-Henryville Superintendent Johnny Budd said the mask mandate will last until Oct. 18, at which point the board will re-evaluate its mask policy. The district’s fall break is scheduled from Oct. 4-15, so the mandate will be effective for only three weeks.
Gov. Eric Holcomb recently signed an executive order changing the state’s quarantine policy. Schools with mask mandates are not required to quarantine close contacts identified within the classroom setting as long as they remain asymptomatic.
“We were seeing an increased number of students test positive, and because of that we were quarantining such a large number,” Budd said. “So we’re kind of at that point where we have to either make a decision to do masks or go to eLearning, and at this point we figured masks for a short period of time would be better than going to eLearning.”
There are a variety of policies in place across Southern Indiana, but all school districts in Floyd and Clark counties are now requiring masks. Silver Creek School Corp. also adopted a temporary mask mandate last week to adjust to the updated quarantine policy.
Greater Clark County Schools and New Albany-Floyd County Schools are both requiring masks based on the state’s color-coded map tracking COVID-19 spread. Both counties are now orange, but if they move to yellow or blue, masks would only be recommended.
Clarksville Community Schools has required masks since the beginning of the school year.
So far this week, Borden-Henryville has four student COVID-19 cases and one staff case, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. The district has seen a total of 68 student cases and nine staff cases since the start of the school year.
The district has a total of 147 students and eight staff quarantined.
In the third week of school, Borden-Henryville went to eLearning mainly due to a shortage of bus drivers related to quarantines and other reasons, Budd said.
Budd said there are so many close contacts in the sixth grade that two whole classes have been quarantined, but they are allowed to return as long as they were masked and not showing symptoms.
Budd wants to keep the mask requirement temporary and return to optional masking. The mask mandate “will buy us some time to get us through fall break,” he said.
“I have no interest in this being a long-term solution,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have it for 16 days and then move on without it.”
Teachers are “flat-out exhausted” this school year due to the large level of quarantines, Budd said.
“You are trying to teach the kids who are present, and then you have a different group of kids everyday who are out, and they’re out for extended periods of time,” Budd said. “But there’s always kids coming back and kids leaving, so there’s quarantines on a rotating basis.”
“Honestly, it’s exhausting for the teachers to be teaching and trying to get lessons for these kids who are out, and at the same time, when kids come back, they’re trying to see how far behind are they and trying to get those kids caught up,” he said.