ANDERSON — Even before the proverbial bell rang on the first day of school Wednesday, Anderson Community Schools reported a student-athlete had tested positive for COVID-19.
“The student was a member of the boys basketball team, developed viral symptoms over the weekend, and we were made aware of a positive test yesterday, August 4,” district officials said in a prepared statement. “Several coaches and student-athletes were in contact with this student during the week’s practices.”
According to the statement, all protocols of ACS’s reentry plan and of the Madison County Health Department have been followed. That includes contacting affected coaches, students and families, who now are quarantined with a recommendation to be tested for COVID-19.
The notice is the latest by schools serving students in Madison County and surrounding communities, which are among several in Indiana who have reported cases since schools throughout the state started reopening last week. Schools in Indiana, as throughout most of the United States, shuttered their buildings around spring break in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACS is conducting school virtual-only through at least Sept. 9, but when the board of trustees made that decision a month ago, they also decided to allow sports programs to take place because the decision to participate is voluntary, leaving the risks to parents and students, unlike the decision to attend school.
“If you don’t want your child to be in cross country, they don’t have to be in cross country, but everyone must go to school,” ACS Superintendent Joe Cronk said.
Many of the students who have reported positive test results at schools, including Shenandoah High School, Fishers High School, Beech Grove High School, New Palestine High School and Warren Central High School, have been involved in athletics, especially football and basketball.
“Those are the students that are back,” Cronk said.
He stressed the current positive results being seen are from community spread after students and their families have returned from vacations, not from spread due to athletic activities.
“The student who got it obviously didn’t get it from practice,” Cronk said. “They’re bringing that back, but I think the protocols work.”
Elwood Community Schools Superintendent Joe Brown on Monday sent an email to parents of students at Elwood Jr.-Sr. High School informing them a student there had tested positive for COVID-19. According to Brown, the student had attended classes the first day July 30 but wore a mask in compliance with the district’s Roadmap Back to School.
Elwood schools, which started the 2020-21 school year on July 30, were the first in Madison County to reopen since the pandemic started.
“If your child was in close contact with this student, you received communication today,” he wrote.
Brown reminded parents not to send students to school if they have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, dry cough and sore throat or while they are awaiting test results.
In an emergency executive session Saturday afternoon, the district’s board decided to close the high school building for the week and move to a system in which all schools will shift to e-learning each Wednesday for the month of August so the buildings can be deeply disinfected.
Prior to the start of school, Elwood also reported an unidentified staff member working in an unidentified location had tested positive for COVID-19. Another staff member has tested positive since then.
Brown said the steps taken over the past week will continue to be taken any time district officials learn of a positive result.