FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In a letter to Northwest Allen County School families over the weekend, Superintendent Chris Himsel is asking students to mask up voluntarily.
“Although board-adopted procedures are currently mask optional, I encourage each parent and guardian to have her/his child(ren) voluntarily wear a mask by choosing to comply with recommendations from the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, and Indiana Department of Health,” Himsel wrote.
“Healthcare professionals recommend the wearing of a mask even more strongly for individuals who have not been fully vaccinated from SARS-CoV2/COVID.”
The letter dated August 15 was confirmed by the district to WANE 15. The NACS School Board hosted sometimes divisive meetings over mask policy before voting in June to make masks optional at the start of July. Since then, local, state and national COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have spiked.
Indiana’s level of COVID spread is currently at levels similar to last October. Spread among school-age children is significantly increasing throughout Indiana. Indiana children age 19 and younger now comprise nearly 16 percent of Indiana’s COVID cases. Many school districts that began the school year two or three weeks ago recently shifted to remote learning or re-instated mask mandates because of significant and rapid increases in the number of COVID cases and resulting quarantines.Chris Himsel
Northwest Allen County Schools
Himsel adds the voluntary mask wearing can:
- increase the likelihood of keeping our schools open for onsite instruction,
- decrease the number of interruptions caused by quarantines and illness,
- decrease the likelihood of needing to limit attendance at upcoming events, and
- decrease the chances that the NACS Board of School Trustees will need to re-instate mask mandates and other restrictions.