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WVPE News

South Bend Community School Corporation drops mask requirement

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Justin Hicks
/
WVPE

As of Tuesday, face masks are no longer required in South Bend Community Schools.

The school corporation was one of the first in the area to adopt a universal masking requirement for the 2021-22 school year and is one of the last to still have one in place.

But following updated CDC guidance and low transmission rates in St. Joseph County, the school board voted to adopt a mask-recommended policy Monday.

Masks are still advised for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test or exposure to the virus. But they’re no longer required in classrooms, lunchrooms, extracurricular environments or on transportation.

Assistant Superintendent of Academics Brandon White said the corporation’s COVID-19 committee will continue to meet biweekly and monitor public health data.

“We have individuals from the St. Joe County Health Department, we have physicians, we have our staff on that call,” he said. “What I want people to realize is even though we are moving to mask-recommended, that those same structures that we’ve had will not stop.”

According to White’s presentation to the school board, staff COVID-19 cases peaked at the beginning of December and have been falling ever since. Student cases began to increase sharply midway through December, and began a dramatic decline shortly after the new year.

However, board member Ruth Warren emphasized that other preventative measures are key to keeping those numbers low.

“Even though our county is in a low transmission category, we have 11 elementary schools where the vaccination rate is below 20 percent,” she said. “I would just really encourage the vaccination of our youngest children.”

White said that any student or staff member who feels more comfortable with a face mask is welcome to continue wearing one.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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