Mask Mandate Set by Board

School Board Makes Changes to PCSC ‘Return to Person’ Plan

On Wednesday, September 1, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced an incentive allowing schools to require face masks in hopes of slowing the number of cases and quarantines among staff and students across the state. Tuesday, September 14 was the first day Paoli Community School Corporation students returned with a temporary mask requirement, decided at the previous night at the monthly school board meeting.

“In the first 24 days of school, a total of 760 students were classified as close contacts and quarantined or required to wear masks as a result,” said Superintendent Greg Walker. “Using the minimum number of eight days to quarantine for each student, that’s 6,000 days and over 36,000 hours lost of in-person instruction. Out of all of these students quarantined, less than five percent of them actually tested positive for the coronavirus. So, for the most part, we are quarantining completely healthy kids and I hate having to do that.”

With the new mask mandate, students and staff are not required to quarantine unless they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Those who are close contacts will also be able to stay for in-person instruction.

“[The week of September 13-17], we had three positive cases in the building and we didn’t have to quarantine anyone as a result,” said Walker.

The changes made to the PCSC “Return to In-Person Instruction” Plan, with the motion passing 6-1. School Board member Craig Starr was the only individual to vote against these changes.

In a comment to the Paoli News Republican, Starr said, “Division is not good for the school corporation or our community. While I hope the temporary mask mandate is brief, I would ask people, regardless of what the position is, to try and respect it.”

This new mask mandate will be revisited during the next board meeting on October 18, where members will decide whether it is necessary to keep it or lift it. They will take into consideration the community coronavirus spread data as well as the county color on the COVID-19 map. “I am hopeful that we will be able to lift it by then, but no matter what I do not want to have to send kids home if I do not have to, so we’ll just have to see,” said Walker.

Story by Gracie Walls

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