Westfield Washington parents and students share experience after first day of optional mask wearing

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Masks are now optional in Westfield Washington schools. The district announced an update to its policy on Friday with the changes going into effect Monday.

News 8 caught up with families after school let out.

Parent Jenni Smith said she’s happy with the changes because she believes seeing faces is an important part of the learning process.

“I was very excited — yeah, I screenshotted it and sent it to all my family with a few emojis for sure,” said Smith.

However, just like remembering to wear a mask, Smith’s daughter Harper said being able to take it off is going to be an adjustment.

“Someone reminded me in class that I was allowed to take it off and I felt a little weird. Like, we’ve been wearing masks for so long you feel a little weird,” said Harper.

Other kids said they also felt strange without their face coverings at first. But after a full day without them, they all agreed they hope they’ll never have to wear them again.

“That just made me really happy at school — and a couple times I was like where’s my mask and then I remembered I don’t have to wear one,” said student Tanja Gipe.

Parent Greg Bozarth said his family likes the idea of having options, but they’re on board with whatever it takes to keep kids in the classroom.

“We were fine with the masks being mask mandated. We weren’t anti-mask for the sake of the kids going back to school because for us as the parents, that was the most important thing for us,” said Bozarth.

There are some exceptions to the district’s mask policy — face coverings are still required on buses. Additionally, if any school’s positivity rate rises to 1.75%, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status, until it drops below 1%.