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Masks won’t be required at Carmel Clay schools; some parents raise concerns

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Children in Carmel Clay Schools won’t be required to wear masks in the classroom. On Thursday, just one day after the district’s announcement, the Hamilton County Health Department held a virtual town hall to discuss kids and vaccines.

Some parents used the meeting as an opportunity to ask if the health department agreed with the district’s decision.

Doctors on the call were quick to say kids should keep the masks on in the classroom.

“It’s just a good, polite thing to do. It helps breakthrough cases and everyone is going to do better with it, so I would encourage everyone to wear their mask in school, vaccinated or not,” said Dr. Chris Belcher, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who was part of the town hall.

Since most kids aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet and with the Delta variant on the rise, doctors say there still needs to be added protection. News 8 talked to one mom before the meeting who is also a nurse.

Tara Gavardinas said if the school district doesn’t change the policy, she plans to pull her kids out.

“This virus has a lot of room left to continue to optimize its potency. It will continue to become more and more deadly in all age groups. The only way we get off this roller coaster ride of wave after wave, the only way, is to stop human to human transmission,” Gavardinas said.

She said vaccines, better PPE for all ages and proper ventilation in buildings would make her feel better about the return to the classroom.

Health education specialist Jim Ginder works for the Hamilton County Health Department and said the health department can only make recommendations to schools.

“So the last executive order that Gov. Holcomb actually released to us stated that that decision goes back to the school board and the local superintendents,” said Ginder.

The schools will be open for full-time, in-person learning with no virtual option. If the state changes any recommendations, all schools will have to follow suit.