Indiana schools can stop masking, reporting COVID cases soon

Indiana schools and child care programs will no longer have to conduct contact tracing or report COVID-19 cases to the state Department of Health starting Wednesday, state officials announced Thursday.

Students who are exposed to a COVID-19 case also won’t have to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status or whether their schools require masks.

Schools are still expected to work with local health departments in the event of an outbreak or cluster, officials said. Information should also be shared with students’ families when a case is identified so that parents can monitor their children for symptoms.

“These changes reflect the rapid decline in COVID-19 cases as we emerge from the omicron surge and the fact that all school-age children have been eligible to be vaccinated since November,” the state health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, said in a statement. “While they do not remove the need for continued vigilance, they will ease the reporting burden on schools and help ensure that children can stay in school.”

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration will also lift quarantine requirements for children who are exposed at their child care program.

Kids who test positive for COVID-19 will be advised to isolate at home for five days, regardless of whether they show symptoms. It’s recommended that children who can correctly and consistently wear a mask return on the sixth day. Those who can’t will be able to return on the eighth day.

The state health department also updated its guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19, recommending that they isolate for five days. Normal activities can be resumed on the sixth day if a person has been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and as long as symptoms are improving.

Anyone who tests positive should wear a mask any time they are around others inside their homes or in public for at least 10 days, according to the state health department.

State health officials said less demand for testing and increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment warrants the scaled-back COVID-19 response.

In response to a decreased demand for testing, the state health department said it will end its testing and vaccination clinic across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Feb. 26.

Indiana National Guard support for long-term care facilities and hospitals will end March 14, and no new requests will be accepted after Feb. 26, health department officials said.

The state health department will also suspend its testing and vaccination strike teams that have been deployed across the state, but will continue to make mobile vaccination and testing units available upon request.

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