FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – During the Northwest Allen County Schools board meeting Monday evening, topics ranged from COVID contact tracing protocols to reading material that is mandatory in a 10th grade class at Carroll High School.

The board unanimously voted to remove close contact quarantine and contact tracing.

“There are too many girls and boys that don’t have to be out, that were out due to the former policy, and we followed that to the tee,” said NACS Interim Superintendent Steve Yager. “But the new policy, we are going to have more boys and girls in school.”

Yager told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that the change was a team effort from current and former employees. Yager said the data showed the change made perfect sense, and that January’s COVID statistics showed the number of cases have declined and many healthy students were kept home to quarantine.

The district provided data showing that 1,823 students were quarantined due to exposure of COVID, but only 63 of those students tested positive.

“If a student is not with a teacher, even with e-learning, it’s not the same. You can never replace the facial contact and the nonverbal communication that occurs in education,” Yager said.

Earlier this month, Southwest Allen County Schools also removed its contact tracing, despite Governor Eric Holcomb recommending the precaution. East Allen County Schools is expected to consider a similar move later this month.

The end of the close contact quarantine for NACS begins February 15, 2022.

Superintendent Yager said the district had several discussions with the Allen County Department of Health, who disagrees with the choice. Yager says NACS believes its decision is best for students, and many parents agreed.

“It’s really been my middle child and he has receded. He has declined in friendships, declined in academics. I can see there has been some social anxiety and that is not who my child has been or will be in the future,” said NACS parent Kristi Corotezano-Smith. “If I don’t have to do any of that in my everyday life [you know I’m around more people than he is]. He is in an environment that is constant, with the same people over and over and I’m not. Why do we have to live by two different rules?”

A number of parents at Monday’s meeting also spoke about the mandatory reading materials in a 10th grade class at Carroll High School.

During public comment, nearly 10 parents spoke out against Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Parents called for the board to remove the book from the school’s reading list because they feel it’s racist and gives graphic details of molestation and violent rape.

“Some of the books that were read tonight need to be eliminated. Not necessarily because we want to tell the board what to do, but we want to have morals,” Corotezano-Smith added. “We want to have character and we want to make sure that our children are coming out of here being assets to society, not detriments to society.”

Corotezano-Smith says there are alternative materials.

“There’s a book called 1913 and it talks about when our taxes were levied, when the social security taxes came into play and what happened in the year 1913. There are a lot of classics out there,” Corotezano-Smith said. “There’s a lot of economics books. There’s books on finance. Instead of having children take a 25 question test in the finance area and check off a box. There is a book called The 47 Financial Principals. They could read that. There’s a book called Finances for Teens. There’s a lot of things that could be read that can be applicable and can be applied in everyday life for the youth.”

Corotezano-Smith believes many districts across the nation are sending children out into the world without providing life experience.

Superintendent Yager chose not to comment on the reading list. He will research into the parents’ complaints to see if he can come up with a solution.