The Indiana Department of Health updated its mask guidelines regarding the 2021-2022 school year, and parents want their voices heard.
During the public comment portion of the East Allen County Schools Board of Trustees meeting June 15, seven people spoke in favor of mask choice. However, parents are concerned because, on June 8, the Indiana Department of Health updated its back-to-school guidelines regarding COVID-19 precautions.
Some guidelines listed are as follows: masks are required on public transportation. Vaccinated staff and students no longer need to wear masks or quarantine if in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 unless they start to notice symptoms. It is recommended that unvaccinated people wear masks and social distance when possible. They are still required to quarantine if they come in close contact with someone who tested positive.
It also states that after July 1, local school boards will be responsible for implementing whatever measures and restrictions deemed necessary and prudent to address the impact and spread of COVID-19 for their buildings, facilities and grounds, including transportation.
Mask-choice parents are concerned because, at the May 4 Board of Trustees meeting, the Board said that it would rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the IDOH when deciding whether to enforce a mask mandate for the next school year.
The resolution currently states the district will allow for mask-choice, but it can change depending on the severity of the pandemic when the school starts.
One parent named Fran Bingham spoke, highlighting that Christianity says that wearing masks is a lie and a demonic ritual.
“I don’t know how many people, if very many of you have approached this side of everything, but we are in a spiritual battle,” Bingham said. “I don’t know how many of you are Christians. I pray most of you are. Masks, they are a lie. They are a lie from the father of lies. The children, being a part of this, and even us adults, being a part of this is a demonic ritual.”
She told the board to research Freemasons and their rituals.
“It’s not a conspiracy. It’s true facts,” Bingham said.
Bingham even compared wearing masks to slavery.
“You can look at slavery and the compliance they got out of the slaves by masking them,” Bingham said. “This is not a theme that is for health. Yes, if you are sick, you can wear a mask, and I’m not saying people shouldn’t wear masks because if they feel comfortable with it, fine. But for the most part, making children wear masks is part of just getting compliance and indoctrination from them.”
She advised the board not to listen to organizations and to think for themselves.
“The fact that the boards and our cities and our governments are being complacent to all of this, it’s really unacceptable,” Bingham said. “I’ll just pray that the Holy Spirit will convince your hearts to know what is the truth and not always just be following the government and what your administrations and everybody else is telling you what to do. Because in the end, this is about the children and their health and their emotional welfare.”
Others who spoke that day were concerned about whether the resolution will stick since there is room for the board to make changes. Another parent, Lindsey Hammond, is worried that the board will change its stance and make masks mandated again since these recommendations were released.
“As concerned parents, we are now asking ourselves if the resolution you passed over a month ago will comply with the recommendation from the Indiana Department of Health,” Hammond said. “Since it was stated in the policy that it would be fluid and based on current guidelines.”
She wants assurance from the board that it will continue to proceed with the mask-optional plan for the 2021-2022 school year.
“Perhaps another vote would put people’s minds at ease,” Hammond said. “We are asking for mask choice with no restrictions, as other schools across the state have done. Which, at this point, is not the case because the resolution passed by this school board is based on county and state guidelines at the time school starts.”
Hammond continued by telling the board that she hopes it does not make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement to attend school. She said parents are actively seeking alternative school districts for their children for the next school year. Hammond also stated that the meetings need to be moved to a larger venue because more people are choosing to attend.
Board member Ron Turpin commented on the issue at the end of the meeting.
“I will say this is the first school board in the region that has passed a mask-optional policy for the next school year,” Turpin said. “I know that I at least, and I don’t know anyone who differs, that we are committed to that in this next school year. We cannot predict the future as to what happens, but each person in this room cares about our kids, and we want the best for our kids.”
Board President Todd Buckmaster also spoke about the mask issue.
“We are more together than we are apart,” Buckmaster said. “We are not against you. We’re listening. We hear you. We are moving towards this school year, like Ron says. We appreciate that you are taking the time out to speak to us.”
The board also:
- Listened to updates in textbook and course fees for East Allen Career Center and East Allen University.
- Approved the contract for Jennifer England to help the district with psyche services.
- Heard a request to allow for a contract with Soliant for psychology services since the district is down two school psychol