A School Reopens, and the Coronavirus Creeps In


One or two confirmed cases in a single classroom would require those classes to close for 14 days, with all students and staff members ordered to quarantine. The rest of the school would continue to operate, but if two or more people in different classrooms in the same school tested positive, the entire building would close for an investigation, and might not reopen for two weeks depending on the results.

In California, where schools in two-thirds of the state have been barred from reopening in person for now, state guidelines call for a school to close for at least 14 days if more than 5 percent of its students, faculty and staff test positive over a two-week period.

Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school district, has proposed a hybrid system for reopening that would put students into 15-member pods that can be quarantined if one member tests positive. School buildings should close if the city averages more than 400 new cases a week or 200 cases a day, the plan states, with other worrying factors like low hospital capacity or a sudden spike in cases taken into account.

In Indiana, where the middle school student tested positive on Thursday in Greenfield, an Indianapolis suburb of 23,000 people, the virus began to spike in mid-June, and the caseload has remained relatively high. This week, Indianapolis opted to start the school year online.

The Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, with eight schools and 4,400 students, gave families the option of in-person or remote learning. At Greenfield Central Junior High School, which the student with the positive test attends, about 15 percent of the 700 enrolled students opted for remote learning, said Mr. Olin, the superintendent.

“It was overwhelming that our families wanted us to return,” he said, adding that families needed to be responsible and not send students to school if they were displaying symptoms or awaiting test results. Students are also required to wear masks except when they are eating or for physical education outside, he said — and as far as he knew, the student who tested positive was doing so.



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