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Brownsburg school board hears from parents before making mask mandate

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — After two weeks of heated debate, students in Brownsburg schools are now required to wear masks in their buildings.

On Monday, the school board voted 4-1 in favor of a mask mandate, joining a list of several other central Indiana school districts switching to a requirement for face coverings after the start of school just days earlier.

The mandate begins with a transition day on Tuesday and full implementation by Wednesday.

Before the decision, board members heard criticism from a fired-up crowd at their meeting. Nineteen parents spoke during public comment: 12 against a mask mandate; six for; and one parent somewhat neutral.

“Really, you have no legal right to mandate a medical intervention, you’re not licensed to practice medicine in Indiana. The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) concluded that masking is not an effective strategy to prevent transmission of the COVID virus also so the vote for a mask mandate should be a resounding no,” one parent said.

Another parent said, “Masks are a key tool we have for reducing the transmission of this virus to mask wearers to others regardless of their vaccination status. Please be willing to do what is right this week and follow the prevalent health data that you presented here tonight to keep our kids in school every single day.”

Some parents threatened to pull their kids out of the district, others said they would not follow the rules and suffer the consequences. “I am giving my kid permission to say ‘no.’ I am going to let her resist.”

The district shared data that compared last year’s cases and quarantines to this year’s data. Board members also pointed out the Hendricks County Health Department strongly recommended masks.

According to the district’s data, so far 1,181 students in Brownsburg schools have had to quarantine. The board said that accounts for well over 3,000 days of missed instruction.

The conversation carried outside of the meeting. While there were differing views on the mask mandate, parents all agreed they wanted their kids in the building as long as possible.

“We are very much advocates for parental rights and parental ability to choose for their children and very much against indoctrination in public schools in general,” said parent Kristin Ferklic, who told News 8 she pulled her kids out of Brownsburg schools in the 2020-21 school year.

“It worked last year and it’s gonna work this year again. I don’t want to see my kids quarantined again,” said parent Carolina Wuestefeld.

No board members had masks on during the meeting, and many parents called them out for it.

An amendment was also approved by the board where they agreed to revisit the district’s mask policy once a month.