‘You had your childhood so why destroy ours’: NACS anti-mask parents, students speak at board meeting

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — For more than two months the debate over whether or not kids should wear masks while in school has taken over the Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS) board meetings. Monday night was no different.

More than 100 parents, students, teachers, administrators, and residents of Allen County attended the meeting in Carroll High School’s auditorium. Nearly two hours were spent discussing the masks.

So, should students have to wear masks in school? It appeared a large majority of those who spoke at the meeting say no. They argue that kids should have a choice on whether or not they wear their masks to school.

“We live with them. We raise them. It should be up to the parents whether they wear a mask or not,” one NACS parent said.

“You had your childhood so why destroy ours,” a Crestview Middle School student said.

One parent went as far as to suggest a solution that would split students based on whether they wear a mask or not. Those who want to wear masks will go to one school and those who don’t will go to another.

“We will not stop attending these meetings and fighting on behalf of our children until we get the freedom to send our students with or without a mask,” said NACS parent Travis Striggle. “So we are not going anyway. We are going to continue to grow and get stronger and we will be here until they give us that choice.”

However, other parents are worried that taking off the masks too soon will cause an increase in cases.

During the mist of debate on masks, several parents took the time to also voice their concerns and ask for school board president Kent Somers and board member Steve Bartkus to step down for comments they made.

During an April meeting the board voted, 3 to 2, not to go against the State-ordered COVID-19 safety protocols that require use of masks in schools.

Board President Kent Somers voted in the minority. Then parents started to raise concern over public comments made by Somers’ wife, Lisa Bobay-Somers.

Pull your kid and go remote for now. This will be hard for them now. It won’t cost them any money now if you pull your kids. Next fall, sign up as usual and then keep your kids home on the day they count the kids. That’s the day they get their funding. If 600 kids are gone it would cost the school $5 million.

Lisa Bobay-Somers, NACS Board President Kent Somers wife.

Also in during a school board meeting, member Steve Bartkus also made remarks about LGBTQ that left some in the audience upset.

For those reasons, both Bartkus and Somers were asked to step down by the student’s parents. Neither spoke during the meeting. WANE 15 did ask for interviews and were told “no comment.”

The board meeting ended after everyone was given a chance to speak. However, the debate is far from over. Parents asking for the choice to choose to remove the mask say that if the school doesn’t give them a choice that students will start leaving the school system. Others warn that their students will attend school in the fall without a mask regardless of what the school says.

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