CLAY CO, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — With a positivity rate of over 15% and an average of over 400 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people a week, Clay County is officially at a red level advisory.

It’s the highest warning issued by the Indiana Department of Health.

As of December 9, masks will be mandated in the Clay Community Schools. It’s a part of the school’s re-entry plan approved earlier this year.

However, Clay County Commissioner, Marty Heffner, says masks will not be mandated for the general public.

“We rely on the public to use their common sense. We don’t believe in putting mandates on our folks, we rely on them using common sense decisions,” He said.

Heffner adds masks will be recommended in the Commissioner’s Office, employees will wear masks when interacting with the public and there will be a heavier focus on sanitation.

He adds the current increase in COVID-19 cases due to the holiday season, he adds, going forward, he urges everyone to be responsible.

“The last thing we want businesses to shut down or restaurants shut down. I know the school’s mandated masks once again. But, folks, be cautious,” Heffner added.

As of last week, Superintendent Jeff Fritz with Clay Community Schools said across the district, 20 students tested positive for COVID-19, and 113 were quarantined.

“There’s been very little that’s been easy the last couple of years and certainly the re-entry plan and masking have been very contentious. Overall, our plans work pretty well for us,” He said.

Part of the school’s re-entry plan states masks must be worn when the country is in a red level advisory or a school has a COVID-19 positivity rate of over 5%.

Social distancing and sanitizing will continue to be implemented.

Large community events will be at the discretion of the administration per local, federal and state mandates, visitors in the schools will be limited, signage posted throughout the schools regarding sanitation and students facing the same direction are just a few highlights of CCS’s back to school plan.

“As soon as we go out of red or we have a school below a positivity rate below 5%, which again we aren’t even close to that, masks will be recommended, not required,” Fritz said.

The school’s re-entry plan and mask mandate will be evaluated on a weekly basis.