Governor Holcomb Changes In-Class Mask Requirements for Indiana Students
On Wednesday, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced during his weekly COVID update press conference that he would be extending Phase 4.5 of the state's reopening plan another 30 days. On Thursday, he made it official by signing Executive Order 20-39. Not only did his signature make the extension official, it tweaked a provision regarding students wearing masks in the classroom. A change he did not discuss during the press conference.
Initially, as part of his statewide mask mandate that went into effect July 27th, students who were planning on returning to classrooms when the school year begins for their areas were to wear a mask in the classroom if the space could not be configured in a way they could be distanced from each other by the recommended distance of six feet or more. Thursday's executive order cut that distance in half. The order now reads that students will be allowed to remove masks in the classroom if the room can be configured in a way that keeps them three feet or more apart. The full paragraph reads as follows:
Where a classroom or place of instruction can be configured so that all students can maintain at least three (3) feet of social distancing from one another at all times, and where students are positioned to face in the same direction, face coverings or face shields do not need to be worn during in-person educational instruction by students. Instructors must wear a face covering or face shield unless the instructor(s) can maintain six (6) feet of social distancing from students.
The Governor noted the reason for the adjustment in a post on Facebook after the order was signed, saying the change was made "Following consultation with Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics." However, he did not offer any details on the information he was given that led to the change.