Are Masks Required in Central Indiana Schools?
Are Masks Required in Central Indiana Schools?

Are Masks Required in Central Indiana Schools?

INDIANAPOLIS – While Indiana’s COVID-19 numbers continue to fall, several school districts are abolishing mask mandates.

Carmel Clay Schools announced Monday that the district would be optional for mask from Feb. 22. Westfield Washington schools went mask-free Monday, as did three schools in the Noblesville Schools district. All Noblesville schools will go mask optional from February 22nd.

Despite these measures, experts warn that it may be too early. “I really want to encourage people to keep it for the purpose of tracking contact,” said Shandy Dearth at the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health.

The main reason Dearth believes that schools should keep the mask requirements is because it keeps more children in school. State guidelines do not require students or staff to be quarantined due to close contact if they wear masks.

“I know that having these masks in place has really helped keep the students in the classroom they have not had to quarantine, as many students that kind of problem has not been such a problem,” Dearth said. That’s the main reason Edinburgh Community Schools extended its claim to early March.

“We just feel like the masks keep our staff here at work and our kids in the classroom, and we just feel like that’s where people belong,” said Inspector Ron Ross. Ross said quarantines have been a “logistical nightmare” to navigate as the district is already inadequately staffed.

“We’re just trying to avoid having healthy students, healthy staff not being able to get to school, not being able to be at work,” Ross said.

We tried to talk to the districts, who are withdrawing their mandates. They rejected all of our interview requests.

“We still only know that 18 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 11 are fully vaccinated,” Dearth said. “I would say let’s reconsider it after the spring breaks or over to see if we should go ahead and remove masks.” Edinburgh Community Schools plans to do just that, and Ross said it will likely go back to mask-optional then.

“From what I’ve seen, the kids are pretty good at using the mask, so let’s let the kids guide us this way and keep using the masks,” Dearth said.

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