FAQs - 2020-21 school year

Will school be onsite or online?

We will provide both options. Any Marion Community Schools family can choose the option that works best for them. Please review our plans to help you determine the right fit for your family:

You can listen to Dr. Lindsay's Grant County update on 7/21/20 here
* You can listen to Superintendent Brad Lindsay's WBAT interview about our back to school plans here
* You can read the Chronicle-Tribune's interview with our administrators about our plans here


Will students be required to wear a mask during the school day?

Masks / face coverings are required at school for staff and students in school by order of Gov. Eric Holcomb (announced 7/22). All bus riders are required to wear masks. There will be situations in a school where masks are required for all students (such as inside a nurse's clinic). Masks are required by the governor's order for third grade and above, but we are still strongly recommending for grades 2 and below. There can exceptions as dictated by IEP/504. We expect all staff and students to have a mask with them at all times. We are working to provide every student and staffer with at least one mask, but we also encourage you to help ensure your student has a mask every day.

Please note: Within classrooms and other settings where social distancing is possible, masks may be removed, upon administration / teacher approval. (Gov. Holcomb explains this in his announcement 7/22.)

Will social distancing be required?

We will utilize social distancing when possible. Due to the size of our student body and our facilities, distancing will not be possible at all times. In classrooms, student seating may be arranged to all face in the same direction, when possible, and will be spaced as far apart as possible. At lunch, we will maximize available spaces for distancing. 

Any time distancing is not possible, mask usage is required.

We will also utilize cohorting (keeping groups of students together and avoiding cross contact as much as possible); this tactic will be predominantly used at the elementary level, but may be used at upper levels when possible. 

Indiana State Department of Health determines contact risk to be 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who is COVID-positive. We are planning our classrooms and school activities with these guidelines in mind.


Will there be health screenings for students and staff?

  • Staff will be required to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to reporting to work each day.  
  • Parents/guardians are expected to screen their students for COVID-19 symptoms each day prior to sending their student to school.
  • Teachers will monitor students and refer to the nurse if unusual symptoms are present.

We need our community’s help with this. It is very important not to come to school sick. Any student with a fever of 100oF or higher is prohibited from coming to school, regardless of whether they exhibit any other symptoms. A student must be fever free without fever reducing medication for 24 hours before they can return to school. 

Any student or staffer exhibiting any other symptom(s) of COVID-19 that cannot otherwise be explained is prohibited from coming to school, and may not return to any school building until cleared to do so. We encourage anyone experiencing symptoms to contact a health care provider immediately. 

Any student who is quarantined due to diagnosis or exposure, or who lives in a household with someone who has tested positive, may not return to any school building until cleared to do so.  

>> Please click here for the current list of symptoms and information about returning to school after diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 infection or exposure.

Marion Community Schools will provide e-learning options to any quarantined student. Teachers will work with our students to complete and submit all school work in a reasonably timely fashion. We will partner with families to ensure learning opportunities do not stop for quarantined students.

Has the structure of the onsite school day changed?

  • There will be early dismissal the first three days (Aug. 5-7). Grades K-4, will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Grades 5-12 will be dismissed at 2:45 p.m. This will enable us to review and make any needed adjustments to the execution of our health and safety plans.
  • After that, a modified schedule will be in place for the entire school year. Students will attend school on campus four days a week through the first semester; Fridays will be scheduled e-learning days. Click here for more details. The school day start and end times remain the same, except for preschool which has been modified slightly. (Times are listed in the MCS 2020-21 onsite learning plan.)
  • Some schedule changes have been made to allow for distancing and cohorting as possible, including block scheduling in grades 5 to 12 to reduce passing periods. For more details on these schedule changes, review the MCS 2020-21 onsite learning plan.


Will water fountains be used?

Water fountains will not be used; bottle filling stations will be in use and are available at every school building.

What are the requirements for the Giant Online Academy?

It is important to note that there will be required participation, assignments and activities, and there will be grades given. This is different from our enhanced learning provided last spring when schools were closed on an emergency basis. There will be time-specific requirements for interaction with teachers. While some flexibility can be arranged for families dependent on community wifi networks (instead of in-home wifi), in general there will be specific schedules and deadlines. For more details, please review our Giant Online Academy information.

Will students be provided with take-home devices for education?

All students grades K-12 will be assigned a school-owned iPad for the 2020-21 school year. 

  • All Giant Online Academy students will be assigned an iPad to use for use at home
  • All onsite students grades K-4 will be assigned an iPad for use at school. These devices will remain at school unless otherwise assigned for e-learning.
  • All onsite students grades 5-12 will be assigned an iPad for use at school, and will be allowed to take their device home every day.
  • All MCS iPads are governed by MCS filtering regardless of where they are being used, and parents have additional options for management of the device for additional restrictions.
  • Take home use of a school-owned iPad is governed by a device agreement in which students and families accept certain responsibilities. Click here to view the full agreement.
  • Click here for our Technology FAQs with more information on iPad usage and more

What are the plans for students receiving special education services?

Marion Community Schools will continue to provide special education services to students as written in their individual education plans (IEPs), whether onsite or online. If revisions to these plans are needed, case conferences will be held to discuss needs and services. A teacher of record will monitor each student’s progress toward their goals. Any services that pull students out of the classroom will be provided in a classroom that is disinfected between uses.

Will the onsite and online teachers be the same?

All students will be taught by MCS  teachers. Students will not necessarily keep the same teachers if they switch from onsite to online learning, or vice versa.

Can I switch between online and onsite instruction during the school year?

If you choose Giant Online Academy, you will be committing to a certain time period of online learning. Requesting to switch back to onsite learning may come with a specific waiting period of a week or more so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Depending on when the request to switch is made, or some other factors, the wait may be longer than that. 

(Switching from onsite to online can also be done, and waiting periods will be shorter for that change. For any student quarantined due to potential COVID-19 exposure, the switch to online instruction will be expedited to provide as much continuity as possible.)

Please contact your school building if you wish to switch from onsite to online, or online to onsite. Numbers are available here.

Are blended options that use both online and onsite instruction available?

Blended options have been available at the high school, and at times have been made to accommodate the needs of families with students in lower levels. Any request for blended options will require discussion with building and district administrators. We do not make any guarantee that specific blended options will be available, but we aim to accommodate families’ needs and preferences as much as possible. If you have specific questions, please reach out to your building administrator.

Will the grading be different for onsite and online instruction?

No, the grading policy will be the same for both methods of instruction.

Will attendance be different for onsite and online classes?

Attendance will be recorded every day for both onsite and online students. (There will be no attendance awards.) For onsite students, remember, it is very important that students don’t come to school sick! Please refer to the FAQ regarding screening, or to our MCS 2020-21 onsite learning plan for more information.

Will visitors be allowed in the building?

We will limit access to our school buildings for anyone other than staff and students.

Volunteers will not be allowed in schools at the start of the school year; this policy will be reviewed for possible changes after the first academic quarter of the school year. (Note: Student teachers / practicum students will be allowed, as we work with our university partners to maximize safety; other community partners may be allowed with pre-approval; all will be required to adhere to staff health and safety guidelines.)

Visitors, including family members, will be allowed in schools by appointment / advance notice only. Please call your school office before coming to the school building. Visitors will be required to wear masks while in the building. In general, lunch visitation will not be allowed. 

Drop off of items for students should be limited only to items that are absolutely essential. Please do your best to see to it that students have everything they need with them when they enter the building each day. If you must drop something off, please call your school office in advance to let them know, and call them when you arrive so that we can facilitate the dropoff as quickly and safely as possible. (Note: In general, food deliveries will not be accepted by school offices for staff or students. Gifts such as balloons, celebration cakes, and flowers will not be accepted.)

The use of MCS facilities by outside groups or individuals is not allowed until further notice, excepting groups with which we have formal ongoing partnerships (whom we will work with to determine usage availability and requirements).

When a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure is confirmed or suspected, what will happen?

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms that cannot otherwise be explained is prohibited from coming to school until cleared to do so. We will follow current CDC and ISDH guidelines on the requirements for return to school after exclusion due to COVID-19. Click here to see current guidelines. 

The Indiana State Health Department traces contacts of any confirmed COVID-19 case in the county. We will assist health officials as needed for cases that may affect those within our schools, providing any necessary information. Indiana State Department of Health determines contact risk to be 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who is COVID-positive. 

There will be specific cleaning protocols for rooms, buildings, and buses in the case of any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 exposure. This will follow all current CDC and ISDH recommendations. 

Local and state health officials have the right to order or recommend school buildings or districts be closed due to any community health concerns, including COVID-19, as does the governor. Marion Community Schools also has the right to opt to close before any such order or recommendation has been made. Specific reporting requirements and e-learning would be in place in the event of any closure.

We will maintain clear and consistent communication with families regarding any needed closures. It is very important that we have current contact information on file for your family. If your email or phone number changes, please inform your school office immediately.

Impact on schools when a person who is found to be COVID-19 positive has been in the building:

Marion Community Schools and the Grant County Health Department are in contact immediately. (Whichever is alerted to positive case first will share this information with the other.) 

We will work with local health officials to determine when short-term or longer-term closures may be needed.

Contact tracing: With each positive case, MCS will help determine any close contacts within our buildings, based on seating charts, class schedules, bus assignments, etc. Quarantines will occur when students and/or staff have been in close contact recently with someone who has been identified COVID-positive. Indiana State Department of Health determines contact risk to be 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who is COVID-positive. 

>> Read the Chronicle-Tribune's 7/23 report on our contact tracing plans

If a significant number of staffers are advised to quarantine, it is possible that logistical concerns could also affect school operations.


Other back-to-school information