The Richmond Community Schools Administration Building. PI File.  (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / Pal-Item)
The Richmond Community Schools Administration Building. PI File. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / Pal-Item)
RICHMOND — Wayne County Health Department officials are offering their advice as school districts work to put together plans for reopening in August, but the county health board decided Thursday the department won't endorse any of those plans once they're finished.

Board members, health officials and school leaders spent more than a half hour Thursday talking about whether reopening plans should require students, teachers and staff to wear masks when social distancing can't be maintained or simply recommend the practice instead.

The Indiana Department of Education — working with the Indiana State Department of Health — recently released a 38-page document outlining guidance for how schools can reopen later this year. That document often refers school districts to their local county health departments for questions and further guidance.

However, the schools themselves are responsible for drafting their own reopening plans. County health departments have no official say-so over what districts ultimately decide to do.

"There's no responsibility for the health department to sign off on their plans," said Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department. "We can give good advice and guidance on those, but they're under no obligation to follow what our recommendations and guidances are."
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