FAQs: 2021-22 school year

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


>> Looking for school supply lists, school fees, back to school events, or enrollment information? Click here

>> For kindergarten-specific questions (in addition to the FAQs below that apply to all), please click here


Will school be onsite or online?

Our primary and default education option at Marion Community Schools for the 2021-22 school year will be in-person school five days a week. In general, students are expected to attend in-person unless specific arrangements have been made with your school. (If you want details about requesting to be considered for online education, please see the information farther down on this page.) 

NOTE: Online education and other at-home learning will still be used as appropriate 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.

 

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

Current public health guidance continues to advise COVID-19 precautions in certain situations. It is possible that these guidelines will change, and we will update this information as needed.

Currently, the basic guidelines are:

  • On buses: Masks are required for all staff and students, according to federal regulation, since social distancing is rarely possible in this setting. Medical / disability exceptions will be addressed on a case-by-case basis at the administration's discretion. Please provide your child a mask to wear to and from school.
     
  • Outside on school property or at a school activity: Masks are not required to be worn by students, staff or visitors; anyone who wishes to continue mask use, including those with high risk factors, is certainly welcome to do so.
     
  • Inside our school buildings:
     
    • Current public health guidance strongly recommends mask use indoors for all. (This is a change announced July 27 by the CDC. The distinction between unvaccinated and vaccinated people has been removed from the guidance, due to more recent findings on the spread of the more contagious Delta variant. The CDC cannot mandate mask usage; that is left to policy makers.) In line with this guidance, we are re-instituting a mask requirement for all inside our schools.

      >> Public health officials tell us that the COVID-19 vaccine is the BEST tool we have to prevent COVID-19! Anyone 12 and older is eligible now. Want to get vaccinated but aren't sure how? To schedule your vaccine, contact your local healthcare provider to ask whether they have the vaccine available, or click here to schedule your appointment at the Grant County Health Department or other locations. Have questions about the vaccine? Here is a great FAQ.
       
    • Masks are required for all visitors in our school buildings during the school day, including students’ family members. Visitors will be allowed in schools by appointment / advance notice only. Please call your school office before coming to the school building. In general, lunch visitation will not be allowed. Please note: Meeting with a teacher requires at least 24 hours notice. For more information about our regular visitor guidelines, click here.
       
    • Masks and social distancing are required for all at indoor activities and events attended by families or the public outside of school hours. Attendance may be limited based on the capacity of each venue and the current public health guidelines. We will update this guidance as needed, in cooperation with local and state health officials.
       

>> For updates on COVID-19 symptoms and quarantines, click here.

 

Will there still be e-learning Fridays?

No, Fridays will be regular school days this year! (But there ARE four scheduled e-learning days during the school year; see the school year calendar here. And the School Board has approved up to five additional e-learning days for weather-related building closures. If there were to be more weather cancellations, they would be made up at the end of the school year.)  

 

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 5-8 will be dismissed at 2:45 p.m. Grades 9-12 will be dismissed at 2:55 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).

  • First student day: 
    • Grades K-12: Aug. 11
    • Preschool: Aug. 16 (orientation / open houses will be the week of Aug. 9; families will be sent a packet the last week of July)
       
  • Late drop-off, kindergarten only, Aug. 11-13
    For the first three days, kindergartners start late, at 8 a.m.! Your teacher will be outside your school building to greet students and walk the class in. 
     
  • Early dismissal Aug. 11-13 (to enable us to review and make any needed adjustments)
    • Grades K-4, 1:30 p.m. dismissal 
    • Grades 5-12, 2:45 p.m. dismissal
       
  • Scheduled e-learning days (students will not come to school buildings; they will be assigned work to complete at home with school iPads and/or other provided materials as needed)
    • There are four e-learning days scheduled during the 2021-22 school year: Aug. 20 and 27, Oct. 8, and March 11 
    • The School Board has approved up to five additional e-learning days for weather-related building closures. After that, any closures will be made up at the end of the school year.
       
  • The rest of the school year calendar remains unchanged at this time. You can view the full calendar here. 
     
  • Students will attend school on campus five days a week (except as otherwise noted). The school day start and end times remain the same:

    • Preschool: morning classes 7:45 to 10:35 a.m.; afternoon classes 11:25 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.; full-day classes: 7:45 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.  

    • Grades K-4: Doors open at 7:20; classes run 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

    • Grades 5-6: 

      • M-Th: Doors open at 8:35 a.m.; classes run 8:50 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

      • F: Doors open at 8:50 a.m.; classes run 9:05 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

    • Grades 7-8: 

      • M-Th: Doors open at 8:30 a.m.; classes run 8:50 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

      • F: Doors open at 8:45 a.m.; classes run 9:05 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

    • Grades 9-12: 

      • M-Th: Doors open at 8:30 a.m.; classes run 8:45 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. 

      • F: Doors open at 8:30 a.m.; classes run 9 a.m. to 3:55 p.m.

    • PLEASE NOTE: Students will not be allowed into the building before the building opening times stated above. Walkers and car-riders should not arrive at the building early unless they are prepared to wait outside and safely distance themselves from others.
       

  • Quarantines will continue to be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in accordance with current public health guidance. If a significant number of staffers are required to quarantine, it is possible that logistical concerns could also affect school operations. We will communicate any such updates to our families.

 

Is there before- and after-school care available?

  • For the 2021-22 school year, we have two partner programs available!

    • The YMCA provides latchkey, holiday and emergency childcare. If you want to use these services, you must register and make payment arrangements with the YMCA. Call 765-664-0544 for more information.
       

    • Marion Community School of the Arts has a new after-school care program this year! There were only a few spots left as of mid-July, so if you are interested, check it out now! Click here for more information.

 

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. We are relying on families to help limit the spread of any illness. We understand that caring for sick children can be a scheduling issue for families. But during this time of heightened concern, it is especially important. Please make plans now for how your family will ensure that your students do not attend school sick. When a student is quarantined due to close contact with an identified positive COVID-19 case, Marion Community Schools does provide documentation for families to provide to employers.  

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, in accordance with local and state public health guidelines. We encourage anyone experiencing symptoms to contact a health care provider immediately. 

Any student or staffer 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, in accordance with local and state public health guidelines.  

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

>> Public health officials tell us that the COVID-19 vaccine is the BEST tool we have to prevent COVID-19! Anyone 12 and older is eligible now. Want to get vaccinated but aren't sure how? To schedule your vaccine, contact your local healthcare provider to ask whether they have the vaccine available, or click here to schedule your appointment at the Grant County Health Department or other locations. Have questions about the vaccine? Here is a great FAQ.

>> 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.

Other health and safety measures remain in place in our buildings: 

  • Hand washing / sanitizing will be expected, especially at the following times:
    • start of the school day
    • before and after eating
    • after using the restroom
    • after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing
    • before and after using shared equipment
       
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided in classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways.
     
  • Staff will receive professional development training on recognizing COVID-19 symptoms, healthy hygiene protocols, and cleaning protocols.
     
  • We will continuously provide needed training and supplies necessary for regular disinfecting of high touch surfaces and equipment.
     
  • Shared materials, equipment, and spaces will be cleaned appropriately.
     
  • We will utilize social distancing practices as much as possible. 
    • Due to the size of our student body and our facilities, distancing will not be possible at all times.
    • Classrooms will be spaced out as much as a specific room / facility allows.
    • Desks will all face the same direction when possible.
    • All seating will be assigned.
    • We will utilize one-way traffic in hallways when possible.
    • Floor / wall markings and staff oversight / instructions will encourage students to keep space between them when waiting or walking in lines. 
    • Outside spaces will be used when possible.
       
  • We will 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. Shared supplies and spaces will be cleaned appropriately.
     
  • Water fountains will not be used; bottle filling stations will be in use and are available at every school building, and water will be provided to students when needed.
     
  • We will provide a separate room within each of our buildings to isolate anyone during a school day who develops COVID-19 associated symptoms that are not otherwise explained, until the time they can leave the building, which should be as quickly as possible. This will be separate from our nurse’s stations. It will be used and monitored in accordance with Indiana State Department of Health and Indiana Department of Education guidelines. 
     
  • School staff will walk students who are ill out of the building to their parent/guardian at the door to be signed out. 
     
  • Clinic assistants will not give nebulizer or other aerosol-producing treatments in the clinic or the classroom, per CDC guidelines, unless specifically listed in an IEP. If necessary please talk to your health care provider about getting a rescue inhaler with spacer for school use.
     
  • Medications that do not absolutely have to be given at school should be given at home (to reduce clinic traffic).
     
  • We will work closely with the Indiana State Health Department and Grant County Health Department as they monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the community. We will respond to requests for information to assist them in their contact tracing efforts in the wake of individual COVID-19 diagnoses.
     
  • Medically fragile students and those with chronic health conditions should discuss their concerns with their health care provider. 
     
  • All regular immunization requirements are still in place. It is very important to make sure your child is up to date on all required immunizations. Click here for the list of required immunizations. 

 

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 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 or specific assignments.
     

  • 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.
     

  • Any students who have been approved for long-term online education will be assigned an iPad for use at home.
     

  • 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.
     
  • Marion Community Schools offers locations throughout the community where our school internet network can be accessed using school-provided devices. Click here for a list of those locations.
     

  • 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 visitors be allowed in the building?

Until further notice, we will limit access to our school buildings during the school day 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 students’ 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 a school building:

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

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; vaccinated individuals are exempt from quarantine rules if no symptoms are present. Indiana State Department of Health determines contact risk to be 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who is COVID-positive. 

>> Public health officials tell us that the COVID-19 vaccine is the BEST tool we have to prevent COVID-19! Anyone 12 and older is eligible now. Want to get vaccinated but aren't sure how? To schedule your vaccine, contact your local healthcare provider to ask whether they have the vaccine available, or click here to schedule your appointment at the Grant County Health Department or other locations. Have questions about the vaccine? Here is a great FAQ.

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

 

Will there be any changes to meal procedures?

  • Free breakfast and lunch will continue to be served at all MCS schools. You are permitted to send meals with your student if you prefer that.
     
  • Breakfast will be eaten in the classroom. In grades K-4, breakfast will be provided in the classroom. At grades 5-12, breakfast will be grab-and-go; as students arrive they will have the opportunity to take a breakfast as they head directly to their classrooms. (Locker access will be available; buildings will provide additional information to students as necessary.)
     
  • At lunchtime, social distancing and/or cohorting will be used as much as possible. Assigned seating and schedule modifications may be utilized. Shared equipment and spaces will be cleaned appropriately.
     
  • No visitors will be allowed to eat lunch with students. Students will not be allowed to leave for lunch. (This includes MHS seniors who typically would be allowed to leave; that policy is suspended until further notice.)
     
  • In general, food deliveries will not be accepted by school offices for staff or students.

 

Will there be any changes to transportation procedures?

  • Families with available transportation are encouraged to consider pickup and drop-off, but bus service will continue to be provided to those who request it. (Bus transportation is a privilege that comes with expectations! Students and families must follow all rules and guidelines, or transportation may no longer be available to them.)
     

  • Students will be assigned a single school bus number, bus stop, and seat. Cohorting will be used as much as possible, and seat assignments will be assigned on a “bus stop basis” meaning students at one stop will be grouped together in bus seats. This is all to limit close contact to the extent possible, and to enable contact tracing if necessary.
     

  • Masks are required at all times on buses, according to federal guidelines, as social distancing is not possible in most cases. There can be exceptions as dictated by IEP/504 or other situations at the administration's discretion. Please provide your child a mask to wear to and from school.
     

  • As many buses as possible will be used as shuttles to the bus hub at Marion High School, to provide for as much social distancing as possible. 
     

  • Dismissal will be staggered (bus riders dismissed before walkers and car riders) and social distancing and/or cohorting will be used as much as possible.

 

Are there any changes to recess procedures?

  • Outdoor spaces will be used as much as possible; masks are not required outdoors.
     

  • Social distancing and/or cohorting will be used as much as possible.
     

  • Shared equipment and spaces will be cleaned appropriately.

 

Are there any changes to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities?

  • Athletics will be guided by recommendations from IHSAA, IDOE, and ISDH / CDC. They will continue to provide direct updates to student athletes on specific requirements and recommendations.
     

  • All in-school and out-of-school activities will adhere to all MCS health and safety guidelines, and any other additional guidelines as determined necessary by MCS and communicated with participants of individual teams, groups, and activities.
     

  • If any student, staffer, coach, or sponsor is experiencing symptoms of illness as outlined in this document and/or current local, state, or national guidelines, they shall not participate in any in-person practices, meetings or competitions. See health guidelines for information on when return to in-person participation would be allowed.
     

  • All coaches / sponsors will adhere to the same guidelines as staff.
     

  • Social distancing and/or cohorting will be used as much as possible. 
     

  • Masks are not needed outdoors. Masks are strongly recommended for unvaccinated individuals during any indoor activity, as much as possible. Masks are required for all on school buses.
     

  • Outdoor spaces and larger indoor spaces (such as auditoriums and gyms) will be used when available to provide room for as much spacing as possible.
     

  • Sharing equipment will be avoided as much as possible, and any such items used will be disinfected between uses.
     

  • Any snacks provided must be store bought and individually wrapped and will only be handled / distributed by a single coach / sponsor.
     

  • Students attending Giant Online Academy may participate in extracurricular and / or co-curricular activities with coordination with coach / sponsor. If a virtual student chooses to participate and the activity is not offered virtually, the participation is required to be in-person and transportation will not be provided from home. All health and safety guidelines will be followed at all times. 
     

  • The latest athletics information can be found at www.mariongiantssports.com

 

What are the requirements for the Giant Online Academy?

Long-term online education remains one of the tools Marion Community Schools can use to customize education to specific students’ needs. We seek to empower students to achieve academic excellence. In general, long-term online education is available only for third grade and above, and will come with specific requirements, including attendance and work completion rules. Those who are approved for online education will be committing to that option for a certain time period, 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.

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

>> Click here for an information packet with more details about online education this school year at Marion Community Schools

 

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. We will continue to use this tool as appropriate to customize education to specific students’ needs. 

Any request for blended options requires 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.)

 

Other back-to-school information