The Northwest Allen County School Board held a public work session during its meeting Monday to address parent concerns over the continued mask mandate in schools.
The session came after a heated discussion at the last school board meeting, in which some parents argued against the district continuing to require masks in schools.
Travis Striggle is a parent of two students at NACS and began the facebook group Unmask NACS Students Now, which now has more than 500 members.
Striggle said he has concerns about the long-term effect of mask wearing for children and believes that the argument is not about safety, but about freedom.
“We have to stand up and fight for our children now, because if we don’t create the boundary in this moment, we might lose the chance to do so in future,” Striggle said.
Many of those who spoke out against the mandate, also wanted to reiterate that the group is not “anti-mask,” but rather “pro mask-choice.”
While about half of the people who spoke argued in favor of ending the mandate, the other half spoke to encourage the district to stay the course.
Area pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Bova said that while children may not get it as much as adults, they can transmit it to their elderly relatives, and that it can still be dangerous for kids.
“We see children that do develop heart failure from this," he said. "This is not a disease that doesn’t affect children.”
Some students even stepped up to the microphone, each one arguing in favor of the masks. They all had a similar theme in their statements -- they preferred to wear the mask and attend school, rather than take them off and risk more quarantines or closures.
As of Monday, northeast Indiana has 84 people hospitalized for COVID-19, the highest it’s been since Feb. 20, and Allen County saw 63 new cases of the illness.