FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Community School’s (FWCS) Board decided Monday night that masks are required for the upcoming school year.

The decision to move to a mask requirement was made after lengthy discussions with local health officials and staff members. Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status.

“With COVID-19 cases on the rise again and low vaccination rates among students, we must take precautions,” said Dr. Mark Daniel, superintendent of FWCS. “Our first priority for the school year is to keep students at all grade levels in school five days a week. We know students learn best in person, and we have a lot to do this year.”

Daniel said that this decision comes with the goal of creating space for students in the limited space available inside classrooms and buildings.

“We know that students benefit when they are learning in school,” Daniel said.

Daniel also asked the students and faculty to have outdoor activities whenever possible to help limit the spread. He added that the district might increase outdoor learning.

This announcement comes just over a month after the school said that masks were optional for vaccinated employees and students.

Mask requirements begin Wednesday. The school year begins on Aug. 16.