FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – While Fort Wayne Community Schools is now requiring face masks, Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS) says masks will continue to be optional. East Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools are also keeping their optional policies.

At Monday’s NACS board meeting, members did not vote or recommend any changes to the current optional policy. Some audience members stepped up to the microphone and voiced their support for the decision.

According to NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel, the district’s school board is continually monitoring information from the Allen County Department of Health, the CDC, and local doctors. The board does not feel the need to change the policy at this time, but they will continually evaluate the situation and make decisions in the best interest of the students.

The data collected by the district includes positivity rates, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, hospitalizations, and vaccination rates. All of these things come into play with regard to the spread that may or may not be occurring in the community.

“We’re very fortunate in that, based on what I’ve been told from some information that’s been given to me, our section of Fort Wayne has some higher vaccination rates than maybe other parts of Fort Wayne, and that also plays into it and that’s one of the factors we would take in consideration,” Himsel said.

Himsel also says that parents should review the guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC in order to make an informed masking decision for their children. They should also consult their local healthcare provider that works with their child to help decide.

In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, Himsel clarified that masks will be required on all NACS transportation services. In addition visitors are required to wear a mask during school hours unless they voluntarily show proof of vaccination.

“When visitors, volunteers, and parents reach their destination within the school and physical distances of 6 feet or more can be maintained, then masks may be temporarily removed,” the NACS Reopening Plan said.

The district said it will continue working to keep students safe. This includes continuing to sanitize surfaces regularly, maintaining distancing between students in classrooms, and utilizing outdoor spaces when possible. The district is excited to welcome students back and looks forward to a safe and successful new school year.