ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A heated Zionsville School Board meeting about face coverings to curb coronavirus in the classroom was standing-room-only.
In a 3-to-2 vote, the five-member school board voted in favor of changing guidance to “require” students younger than 12 to wear a mask at all times when indoors. In the United States, children 12 and older can be vaccinated for COVID-19.
The board changed guidance sent out by the school just two weeks ago that “strongly encouraged” students to wear masks.
In an email sent out Monday, the superintendent said he would be recommending to the school board in Wednesday night’s emergency meeting to require masks for younger students less than one week before students are set to return to the classroom.
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Dozens of parents stood outside the Educational Services Center before Wednesday’s meeting with signs that read “unmask our kids.”
During the meeting, tensions were high, with many outbursts from the crowd throughout the night, both toward parents speaking at the podium in favor of the requirement, and to the school board and the superintendent.
While the majority of parents who spoke in the more than two hours of public comment wanted the masks to remain optional for students, few favored requiring the face coverings.
Opponents were met with cheers and applause while people favoring the requirement were met with boos and interruptions.
The superintendent said despite Boone County’s high vaccination rate, especially within Zionsville at more than 90% among those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines, he thought that the decision to require masks for those not eligible for vaccination was necessary.
“My recommendation is motivated by that singular imperative, that we get in school and we are able to stay in school,” said Scott Robinson, Zionsville Schools superintendent.
Parent Regina Sherro said, “With this conflicting data you cannot make a one size fits all decision. If you make the decision to make masks optional you actually can serve both constituents. You can serve the folks who want to put masks on their children and that is fine, and you can also serve the desires of the folks who want to make those decisions for themselves.”
Parent Elaina Armstrong said, “I am here tonight to ask you to please follow CDC and Boone County health department guidance and ask all students to mask regardless of age or vaccination status.”
This vote did not change previously announced coronavirus limits for teachers, staff, or students 12 and older. The board made it clear that the situation regarding the masks is fluid, but a date was not set to end the mask requirement.