INDIANA — REAL News Michiana has been inundated with questions regarding an email sent to Concord Community Schools staff from the Superintendent of Schools, Dan Funston. The email states consequences for ignoring Governor Eric Holcomb’s newest executive order regarding COVID-19 can result in a class B misdemeanor and jail time. It turns out, that’s true.
Governor Holcomb signed the new order last week. Part of the order deals with K-12 schools.
To support the ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, IDOH will be issuing a COVID-19 control measure. The measure will allow for schools and day cares to modify quarantine provisions if the faciltes adhere to the folowing orders and guidance set by IDOH;
- Schools and day cares that have mask requirements that are consistently followed throughout the day do not have to quarantine students, teachers and staff who are close contacts and aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19; Schools and day cares must continue to contact trace by notifying their local health department as well as parents, teachers and staff who were in close contact.
- The executive order will expire Sept. 30, 2021.
Authority is given to the Indiana Department of Health under Indiana Code 16-41-2 which states:
Sec. 1. The state department may adopt rules under IC 4-22-2,
including emergency rules under IC 4-22-2-37.1, that do the
(1) Define and classify the following:
(A) Communicable diseases.
(B) Other diseases that are a danger to health based upon the
characteristics of the disease.
(2) Establish reporting, monitoring, and preventive procedures
for communicable diseases.
Section 9 details the punishment for violating those emergency rules:
Sec. 9. (a) Except as otherwise provided, a person who recklessly
violates or fails to comply with this chapter commits a Class B
(b) Each day a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.
You can view IC 16-4-2 in its entirety below.
The issue is pinpointing who would be the person determined to “recklessly violate” or fail to comply. As is written, lawmakers tell RNM it could be a multitude of people, including parents who fail to report their child as sick, teachers who fail to report close contact or even students who claim to have been wearing a mask when they weren’t.
While all of these people could face criminal charges, the question remains; will they? It all comes down to enforcement. Law enforcement agencies have to decide whether or not they will enforce the executive order. And, with staffing shortages in departments across the region, it’s hard to believe that will actually be pursued.
The only way to make changes to the law is through the state legislature. The legislature goes back to regular session next year. However, lawmakers are heading back to Indianapolis for redistricting later this month. RNM reached out to State Representative Jake Teshka to see if these issues could be addressed at that time.
“There has been a lot of discussion among members of the General Assembly who think we should address some of these issues while we are in session at the end of September, but we have been told by our leadership that only redistricting will be on the table.” Teshka said.