NACS board president not ‘in full agreement’ with health professionals on student mask requirement

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The debate over students being required to wear masks at Northwest Allen County Schools continues. The school board held a meeting with health professionals Wednesday night t to get deeper understanding of the issue.

Five health professionals, including the Allen County Health Commissioner, attended the public work session. They all supported the NACS administrations decision to keep students masked.

“Masks are safe and very important to keeping kids safe in school,” said Dr. Tony GiaQuinta, a pediatrician with the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“There is no evidence that masks cause or are associated with mental health decline,” said Dr. Tamara Lombard, a private practice clinical psychologist and counselor at Canterbury School.

Despite these health professionals backing the NACS administration’s decisions, school board president Kent Somers wasn’t fully convinced.

“I’m not sure I’m in full agreement,” he said. “I think there’s still some questions and concerns because I don’t believe we’ve ever done a prolonged study of masks and the risks of wearing masks for prolonged periods of time, not only on adults but children as well.”

District superintendent Dr. Chris Himsel hopes that the other school board members will internalize and believe the science presented by the medical professionals. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb mandated masks for K-12 schools through June 30.

“We will continue to follow our plans,” he said. “We’re going to continue to abide by the governor’s orders. They’re the same governor’s orders that have existed for over a year. There hasn’t been any change from the K-12 perspective and we will continue to follow the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics perspective that is that all children over the age of 2 should be wearing a mask, especially when they’re on an on-site school situation.”

The NACS school board next meets on Monday. While masks is not the point of the meeting, it’s likely that this topic will come up again as it has for the last several meetings.

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