AVON, Ind. — Another Indiana school district is discussing potential changes to COVID-19 restrictions as cases and quarantines spread through classrooms.
“I implore you to really think hard before you reconsider masking our children again,” said one parent at Monday’s Avon school board meeting, where several parents stood up and asked school officials to not force their kids to wear masks again with a mandate.
Right now, masks are recommended, but not required.
“We’re all responsible adults. We make decisions for our children every single day and I feel like we’re completely capable to continue to make these decisions without government or higher-ups telling us what we need to do for our children,” parent Amanda Cross told the board.
Some cited health concerns.
“You also have to think that when you breathe out these germs, you’re breathing them back in,” said mom Jennifer Smith.
“When that mask comes home, it’s disgusting, so the fact that he’s breathing that in all day, I can’t handle it. So I’m begging you, please leave the decision up to the parents,” another mom told the board.
“It should be optional. I think our immune systems, we’re around germs all the time. That’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to build immunity to these viruses and colds,” said another parent.
Others were worried about their kids’ mental health if required to wear masks.
“We had at-home direct mental health issues in relation to all of this, so I can tell you that masking our kids and forcing that upon them has direct consequences,” another mom told those gathered at the meeting.
Only one parent at Monday’s meeting, one with an elementary school student in the district, told the board a mask mandate was the way to go. John Essex held up a chart, citing numbers from the Indiana State Department of Health which shows the number of COVID-19 cases is higher now without a mask mandate than last year at this time when masks were required.
“At this point, we have several buildings of schools that are 100 percent populated with kids who are ineligible for the vaccine, so masking is a great way to help keep them safe,” Essex told the board.
“I am hoping it becomes a mandate at schools,” said Whitney Klinck in a Zoom interview with 13 News.
Klinkck wanted to be there for Monday’s discussion but couldn’t be because she had to stay home with her 6-year-old son, who had a COVID-19 test. Klinck hopes the board will reinstate a mask mandate at least for kids, like her two boys, who are younger than 12 and can’t get the vaccine.
“This isn’t a cold. This is a big thing. This is a pandemic,” Klinck said.
Not everyone shared her viewpoint.
“I just ask that you guys really dig and do your research and not base it on the fear mongering that’s going around and leave it optional,” said another mother.
The school board made no decision Monday about masks, reminding parents that the local health department has the authority to require them at the classroom, school or district level.
Since the beginning of the school year, the district has reported 30 cases of COVID-19 in its schools, with 257 students and staff having close contact with the people who have tested positive.