TIPTON — Tipton schools will deploy a new, tiered COVID policy starting Oct. 25.
The new policy will evaluate each school building — elementary, middle and high school — individually based on student and staff positivity rates.
A code green, yellow or red will be determined weekly.
A green rating indicates an individual school has a 2% or lower positivity rate. Yellow is between 3% and 5%, and red is 6% or more.
Each school building will receive a rating, as will the entire corporation.
Mitigation practices vary by rating, though there are some universal measures, such as contact tracing and quarantining.
Green is the most relaxed. Masks are optional, and outside visitors are allowed in school so long as they do not have COVID symptoms.
Masks remain optional under a code yellow. However, shields will be used in areas where social distancing can’t be guaranteed, and the school will use flu-season cleaning practices.
If the positivity rate brings a school or the entire district under a code red, masks become required, except during eating, band, choir and physical education. Cleaning protocols become even more stringent, and students will eat lunch either in their classroom, another room or the gym, depending on grade level.
If a code red is instituted, it will remain in place for four weeks. It is possible for one school to be rated green and another to be yellow or red.
The new policy also comes with a quarantine option for parents and their children.
An asymptomatic student can continue to go to school if they wear a mask. Tipton has deemed this “in-school quarantine.”
These students will wear a mask for 10 days, have their temperature taken daily and be screened for symptoms. Students who choose this option are allowed to participate in extracurricular activities but must wear a mask when not actively participating, such as sitting on the sidelines.
There is also an “out-of-school virtual quarantine” option, where students stay home for 10 days and learn online. Extracurriculars are not an option if a student quarantines at home.
“Essentially what we’re doing is giving parents a choice,” said Superintendent Ryan Glaze.
The options attempt to balance quarantining, COVID mitigation and keeping students in school. The school board approved the new policy Tuesday.
The superintendent said the new policy has received a positive response.
“Most everybody I’ve talked to wants their kids in school,” he said.
Glaze said the majority of cases have been at the middle and high schools, at least until recently. There are about 12 positive cases at the elementary level, which Glaze said is “really high,” but hardly any among older students.
That case trend is, in part, why Tipton has turned to an individual, school-tiered policy.
“Treating each building separately just makes sense,” Glaze said. “That’s why we’re doing it this way.”
There does not seem to be a policy like the one Tipton will roll out in a couple weeks. Glaze said Clinton Central and Carroll schools have similar aspects in their COVID policies, but they are not the same.
The superintendent said the goal is to have a policy that works for Tipton County and the school community.
“I think the one thing we’ve learned about this is Tipton County is obviously different than Howard County or Clinton County,” Glaze said. “We have to do something that works for us.”
The policy will not go into effect until Oct. 25, as next week is fall break.