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Indiana News

Elkhart Community Schools drops mask mandate, moves to mask optional policy

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Jennifer Weingart
/
WVPE Public Radio

The Elkhart Community Schools board voted 6 to 1 Tuesday night to drop their mask mandate and move to a mask optional policy effective Wednesday morning.Masks are still required on school buses due to a federal mandate.

During the meeting, district leaders said the district has seen a 76 percent reduction in the number of positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the year and a 91 percent decline in close contacts.

District leaders also cited the widespread installation of air purification units and the Centers for Disease Control’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 as reasons to drop the mandate.

Board member Babette Boling raised concerns that dropping the mandate could lead to a rise in coronavirus cases that would force quarantines or virtual learning due to outbreaks.

She proposed an amendment to make masks optional for grades seven through twelve immediately, but to keep the masks for elementary kids for another two weeks so the 5- to 11-year-olds had a chance to get vaccinated.

But her amendment died after no other board members seconded it.

According to Indiana’s COVID-19 tracking map, Elkhart County is currently still in the “orange” category, indicating high spread of the virus. Just under 39 percent of Elkhart County residents are fully vaccinated.

And the county, like all other WVPE listener counties, is still classified as an area of “high” community transmission by the CDC. That means the agency recommends vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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