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Indiana to ease quarantine rules for schools beginning Monday



NEW ALBANY, Ind. – Health officials in Indiana are changing track and loosening rules for those people who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

On Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that the state would now more closely follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rather than the strategy it has taken since the beginning of the pandemic.

The new rules say that there would not be a need for quarantining if the student or staff member was at least 3 feet away from the infected person and both were wearing masks. Previously, the rule said people needed to be at least 6 feet apart.

In addition, rather than quarantining for 14 days, a person could quarantine for as few as seven days with a negative PCR test.

“We hope that these steps will help to decrease the disruption that COVID-19 continues to cause in our educational system and lead to quicker isolation of positive individuals which will reduce the spread of the virus,” Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said.

But the move was met with push back from teachers who say Holcomb’s administration does not value teachers safety as it should.

“Lessening those quarantine restrictions doesn’t make them feel safe,” said Jennifer Smith-Margaf, vice president of the Indiana State Teacher’s Association. “So we think they should be erring on the side of caution and leaving what we had in place.”

Smith-Margraf said surrounding state prioritizing teacher vaccinations have furthered the mistrust many teachers currently have with the Holcomb administration.

For its part, Indiana decided early on in the vaccine distribution process that it would prioritize the most vulnerable populations. According to data from the state health department, 90% of COVID-19 deaths in the Hoosier state currently come in the 60+ age group.

Around half the states in the U.S. have moved teachers up the priority list, including Kentucky.

“I know many people have said, you know, ‘You’re trying to cut in front of grandma,’ and that’s not our intention,” Smith-Margraf said. “We believe we should be vaccinated alongside them not in front of them.”

The new rules regarding quarantines go into effect Monday.

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