Indiana School COVID-19 Cases Set New Record As State Pushes For More Testing
More than 4,000 of the newly reported student cases are from the past seven days. Many schools have updated mask policies as outbreaks continue, and some have been forced to go fully virtual due to massive numbers of kids required to quarantine.
Now, state officials are pushing for more COVID-19 reporting and testing in schools, but one of the state's largest school districts says finding enough people and time to increase testing efforts remains difficult.
Fort Wayne Community Schools spokesperson Krista Stockman says the district already conducts at least 100 rapid-response tests a day for students and staff experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms, but expanding preventative testing is a challenge.
"We've had so many positive cases and our nurses are just overwhelmed, so we haven't been able to take the next step with that," Stockman said.
The state said last week it estimates only about 10 percent of schools are offering testing.
But as schools scramble to respond to – and limit – a growing number of cases, one legal expert says some confusion remains about who has the authority to create and enforce certain COVID-19 health and safety rules.
Lisa Tanselle is a lawyer with the Indiana School Boards Association. She said she's receiving questions about when schools have to follow local or state guidance – or make their own. Last year it was easier to figure out because state officials made those decisions for everyone.
"What's the authority of the county health official? What is the authority of the department of health? What is the school board's authority now that there's nothing specific in an executive order?" she said.
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State officials have encouraged masks in schools and for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the pandemic continues disrupting classrooms.
But the state said last week leaving decisions about COVID-19 health and safety protocols to local officials remains the right approach for the state – even as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to climb.