Parents call for mask requirement; school sticks with health dept. guidance

Education

INDIANAPOLIS — Some MSD Lawrence Township parents want to see masks go from a recommendation to a requirement in classrooms.

“It doesn’t matter if I have to move heaven or hell my job is to protect my child,” said Kendall Hantelman, an MSD Lawrence Township Parent.

Hantelman joined other parents outside of the front office of MSD of Lawrence Township to call for masks to be required in schools this year. The groups waved signs at passing drivers, some of whom honked their horns in support.

Hantelman said, without a mask requirement, the district will be in trouble with COVID cases.

“We are setting ourselves up as a district to have further learning loss because of not only spread of covid but children who will not be able to attend,” she said.

Leaders with MSD of Lawrence Township said they’re sticking with guidance from the Marion County Public Health Department.

“We are strongly recommending masks, we want our kids in masks, but you’ll see our language mirrors the health department,” said Dr. Dana Altemeyer, the Director of Communications for MSD Lawrence Township.

But, as of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC has announced it is recommending everyone, vaccinated or not, wear a mask inside schools this year.

Hantelman is hopeful this could give Lawrence Township the push to require masks, but said it shouldn’t have to come to this in the first place.

“We don’t think it should have to be a public health mandate, it shouldn’t have to be law for our district to decide to do what’s best for our district,” she said.

Altemeyer said they’re ready to change course if the experts say so.

“We’re looking forward to a great year,” said Altemeyer. “If we need to pivot, we’ll pivot. We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.”

She said it’s a priority to keep kids in school this year.

“Our data shows our students do better in school, with regard to social-emotional learning, our students do better when they’re in school. They need that face-to-face interaction, so if that means that we’re wearing masks then so be it. The priority is our kids are here with us.”

But, Hantelman said if masks aren’t required, then her student won’t be learning in person.

“He won’t be going, if the requirement doesn’t change and masks aren’t required this fall,” she said.

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