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EACS Board Votes Down Mask Mandate Following Public Comments

FILE PHOTO: Rebecca Green

Following an hour of public comment, the East Allen County Schools Board voted against requiring masks for students and staff in buildings.

The requirement would have been a part of the district’s revised back to school plan, which was present to the board Tuesday night. A large group of parents and residents showed up to speak to the board about the plan.

While a few spoke in favor of requiring masks, the large majority of those who came to the meeting spoke in favor of “mask choice.” Many accused the board of trying to make medical decisions for their children.

“All of you are impersonating our childrens’ medical caregiver. You do not get permission from any of us.”

The revised plan failed by a 4-3 vote, after a contentious discussion between board members about the usefulness of masks. Notably, board members Ron Turpin and Paulette Nellems engaged in a heated back-and-forth for much of the board’s discussion time.

Turpin, who is currently running as a Republican candidate for State Senate, voted against the plan. Nellems voted in favor.

Since the beginning of school, EACS has had more than 400 cases of COVID-19.

Southwest Allen County Schools also voted to keep masks optional on Tuesday. Fort Wayne Community Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools both made masks required last month.

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.
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