Hundreds of parents whose children attend a northwest Indiana school district showed up at a board meeting Monday, voicing their disagreement with the board's decision to impose a mask requirement in school facilities to combat an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Parents and students filled an auditorium at the Lake Central School Corp. in St. John, calling on school district officials to make masks optional.
"The parents have a right to choose," said Cherie True, whose children are in second and fifth grades. "It’s up to parents whether kids wear mask or not. It’s more detrimental to wear a mask than it is to get COVID."
Parent Tim True said 70% of families in the school district are against children wearing masks in school, yet the school board didn't "listen and heed the advice of parents."
"If their family thinks it's proper to wear a mask, go for it, but I don't need someone else telling me to mask my child when I think repercussions will not outweigh the benefits," he said.
One high school senior said he shows up to school daily, but is turned away because he refuses to wear a mask.
"I want to go to class, and these admin will not let me," said Kenneth Cloghessy. "I will not wear a mask."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for schools this month, recommending universal masking for all teachers, students and visitors in K-12 schools - regardless of vaccination status - due to the highly-contagious delta variant.
The district's school board echoed the CDC's recommendation, noting hospitalizations have increased nine-fold since July. Additionally, Indiana is averaging around 2,300 new cases daily.
The school board said it appreciates "the passion expressed of both sides of this important and crucial issue…" and "safety is of prime importance to all of us."