Indiana health officials are allowing schools across the state to relax their quarantine rules for students with coronavirus exposure even as they offer no timeline for when teachers could become eligible for COVID-19 vaccination shots.
The state health commissioner also announced Wednesday that the pandemic has been even deadlier than thought with an audit of death reports finding about 1,500 more coronavirus-related fatalities than previously recorded. That will increase Indiana’s COVID-19 death toll by 15% to almost 11,600 since March.
The new school recommendations call for no quarantines if students and teachers exposed to infection at school were at least 3 feet apart and wearing masks at all times. Schools may shorten current 14-day quarantines to seven days if the person exposed has a negative nasal swab test at least five days after exposure.
Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the new recommendations are in line with current federal guidelines.
State officials opened up vaccine shot eligibility this week for all those ages 65 and older in addition to health care workers. Box said since older people are most at risk of severe COVID-19 illnesses and deaths, they will remain the priority for shots while vaccine doses are in limited supply.