HSE schools return to in-person classes


Graphic from HSE Schools.

HSE Schools has a section on the district website to provide information on the reopening plan.

Emma Tomlinson, Photo Editor

    On Sept. 17, HSE schools return back to in-person classes using the hybrid, or 50/50, schedule. School districts around HSE have taken a different approach; many have had students in class since the beginning of the school year.

     The decision to return to school has been discussed in weekly school board meetings, which are livestreamed for those who wish to listen. Originally, the guidelines of HSE schools provided that students could only return in person if Fishers’ cases were on a steady two-week decline. The school board changed those guidelines, allowing students to return to school if the city was classified as “yellow”, or showing a downward trend in cases. Students were given a form on Skyward to fill out to decide whether they would return to school or not.

    “I am not personally going back,” sophomore Ben King said. “I would feel comfortable going back to school when we get our cases a lot lower and have a much steadier decline in case percentage.”

    Noblesville schools took a different approach. Students have been in person since Aug. 4, and the start of school was one day later than originally scheduled. They have implemented the hybrid schedule, which is what HSE schools will switch to. Students go to school on either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, and all students are online on Wednesday. 

    “In the classroom, we sit by ourselves in an assigned seat so teachers can contact-trace if needed,” Noblesville junior Amelia Moor said. “Before dismissal, we disinfect our area for the next group of students.” 

    The school district is also not accepting any cash this year in order to reduce contact and the possible spread of germs. Lunch money must be wired into the student’s account. All forms and paperwork have gone fully online.

    Zionsville is another neighboring district that has been in school using the hybrid plan. On July 31, the district released its Continuous Learning Plan. Elementary school students are attending school every day, while grades five through 12 are on an alternating block schedule. Remote learning is available to any student who requests it. Remote learning was chosen by approximately 10% of students, according to a district survey.

    “I chose to go back to school, and I feel pretty safe being in-person,” said Zionsville senior Lily Robinson. “I also play soccer and I’ve felt comfortable at practices and games.”

    Moor, King and Robinson all participate in school sports and activities. Moor runs cross country, and she believes that the preventative measures set by the team have been successful.

    “We practice with the same group of girls so our coach can contact trace if needed,” Moor said. “We get our temperatures taken and fill out our daily COVID-19 screening form that asks about symptoms.”

    The runners wear masks when they are within six feet of each other, but they do not wear them while running during meets. Instead, they remove the masks right before the start of the race and put them back on as soon as they finish running. All runners also have a limit of two fans each, which reduces the number of people at meets.

    King is a percussionist in marching band, which has continued practicing. The band has been staying socially distant and wearing masks when possible.

    “As a percussionist, I wear my mask all the time. Wind players take their masks off to play but then put it back on,” King said. 

    Preventative measures taken by both Noblesville and Zionsville have kept the number of cases to a minimum. Wearing masks and sanitizing surfaces has contributed to a low case count at Noblesville. As of Sept. 3, there have only been seven 

    “All of the cases I’ve heard have been students,” Moor said. “There haven’t been any teachers with it yet, which is good.” 

    Contact tracing has helped schools decide whether or not to send a student home for quarantine. At Noblesville, students are sent home for 10-14 days if they have COVID-19, and the school contact traces to see who has been within six feet of that student. All of those students are then sent home to quarantine.

    “I think that we are going back too early and it will just make the situation worse,” King said. “Most students will be careful but there are those who won’t care as much and that puts everyone at risk.”

    When returning to school, students should make sure they are taking the correct precautionary measures such as routine hand washing, social distancing, and proper mask-wearing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.