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(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indy is reversing itself and allowing schools to reopen after New Year’s, two

weeks earlier than planned.

County health director Virginia Caine ordered schools to go virtual after Thanksgiving because of

soaring coronavirus numbers in Indy. Those numbers have since gone even higher, with today’s

seven-day positivity rate at 14.7%.

But Caine says she’s been digging deeper into the numbers, and while 3,200 school-age and

preschool kids in Marion County got COVID-19 last month, the rate of spread among kids is

significantly lower than among adults. Teenagers are more susceptible to the virus than younger

students, but Caine says even comparing high school students to college-age residents, there’s a

noticeable difference in the spread. She says she’s confident it’s safe to reopen.

And Caine notes the Centers for Disease Control issued revised guidance last week, saying isolating

for 10 days after contact with an infected person is enough to avoid spreading the virus further. The

previous recommendation had been 14 days. Caine says that means if students and teachers,

starting on Christmas, avoid “unnecessary contact” with anyone outside their homes, they can be

confident of being virus-free on the new opening date of January 4.

Caine says she’s spent the last couple of weeks talking to local health directors across the country

who have opened schools despite high COVID spread in their communities, and to Thomas Frieden,

director of the CDC during the Obama administration, who’s reviewed school reopening plans

across the country.

Caine says masks will be required for all students third grade and up.