FAQs: 2021-22 school year


NOTE: This information will be updated as needed in line with public health guidance.


Will school be onsite or online?

Our primary education option for the 2021-22 will be in-person school five days a week. 

We will continue to provide online education in certain circumstances upon request and as needed. There will be specific requirements for online education. Please contact your building principal with questions about long-term online education. (Click here for contact information.)

Online education will still be used for individual students for short-term COVID-19 related absences or other home-bound situations at the school's discretion, as well as four scheduled e-learning days during the school year (see the school year calendar here) and up to five additional e-learning days for weather-related building closures.


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 want to discuss specific alternate arrangements for your student, please contact your building principal. (Click here for contact information.)


Has the structure of the onsite school day changed?

There will be early dismissal the first three days (Aug. 11-13). Grades K-4 will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Grades 5-12 will be dismissed at 2:45 p.m. After that, we will return to regular full-length school days, five days a week (aside from exceptions noted on the school year calendar).


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

COVID-19 precautions including masks / face coverings and social distancing will remain in effect until further notice, in alignment with all current public health information. It is possible that these guidelines will change prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year, and we will update this information as needed. (Yes, we are aware of the changed guidance from the CDC. Children under age 12 still have no access to the vaccine. For now, mask guidelines remain in place.)

Currently, the basic guidelines are:

  • Masks are required on buses and in buildings / on school property for all staff and students third grade and above, and strongly recommended for grades 2 and below. There can be exceptions as dictated by IEP/504 or other situations at the administration's discretion, though there will be situations where masks are required for all students (such as inside a nurse's clinic).  
  • Within classrooms and other settings where social distancing is possible, masks may be removed, upon administration / teacher approval. 
  • We will also continue to utilize cohorting (keeping groups of students together and avoiding cross contact as much as possible) as needed; this tactic will be predominantly used at the elementary level, but may be used at upper levels when possible.
  • All visitors are required to wear masks.


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.  

NOTE: The CDC currently advises that individuals who are fully vaccinated are NOT required to quarantine after close contact, unless they experience symptoms.  

>> 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 or other at-home learning options as needed 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.


Will water fountains be used?

Bottle filling stations will be in use and are available at every school building. Water fountains will remain shut off until further notice.


What are the requirements for the Giant Online Academy?

There will be specific requirements for long-term online education. If you are interested in discussing this option for your student in the 2021-22 school year, please contact your building principal. (Click here for contact 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 2021-22 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. (We are discussing other possible arrangements for older elementary students. We will update this information as-needed.)
  • 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. All health and safety guidelines, including disinfection of surfaces and other cleaning protocols, remain in place until further notice.


Will 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?

Please note, there will be specific requirements for long-term online learning in the 2021-22 school year. If you are interested in discussing this option, please contact your building principal with questions about long-term online education. (Click here for contact information.)

If you enroll for online education, you will be committing to a certain time period of online learning, but if students are not finding success in the online setting, Marion Community Schools will work with the family to transition to onsite learning to meet student needs.  

(For any student quarantined due to potential COVID-19 exposure, the switch to online instruction or other distance learning options will provide as much continuity as possible.)


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. For onsite students, remember, it is very important that students don’t come to school sick! Please click here for current COVID-19 information.


Will visitors be allowed in the building?

We will be reviewing public health guidance and will set visitor policies closer to the start of the school year.

Until further notice, previous guidance will remain in place: We will limit access to our school buildings for anyone other than staff and students.

Volunteers: All mask and distancing requirements will apply to all volunteers. 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.)

Use of MCS facilities by outside groups or individuals: We will continue to work with groups with which we have formal ongoing partnerships to determine usage availability and requirements. Other requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. All groups or individuals using school facilities must adhere to all current health and safety requirements, including any requirements from national and local health officials and school rules and guidelines. 


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. 

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