VP Pence says masks are how we keep Indiana and schools open

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INDIANAPOLIS — Vice President Mike Pence said wearing a mask is how we keep things open— including schools. 

School safety was the topic of the Vice President’s visit to Marian University Friday. 

Vice President Mike Pence said the federal government will provide the resources necessary to keep schools safe this fall but he wants them open in person for several reasons. 

“There are real costs, far beyond academics to our kids if they are not in school,” said Pence.

The VP said not only do students fall behind learning online but there are resources like school counseling, free or reduced-price lunches and special needs education that are crucial to many American families. However, he said he knows there is a cost to opening in person safely. 

“We don’t want finances or any recommendations to be a barrier to safely reopen schools,” explained VP Pence.

The federal government already gave $30 billion, half to K-12 and the other half to higher education. Pence said the Trump Administration is working on getting schools $105 billion more. 

“Just at Marion we budgeted $1.5 million extra to operate this year,” said Marian University President Daniel Elsener.

He later said it will likely cost more than that. Marian is spending a lot on safety precautions, like a new app that requires students to take their temperature and fill out health questions before each class.

“So, if I come into President Elsener’s leadership lecture and I don’t have a green sign on my phone, I say, I think you need to go to the health center or go through the steps cause those are procedures you are going to do them every day here,” explained President Elsener.

Wearing a mask will be required at MU as well. 

“I expect full cooperation and I think it will be joyful cooperation,” said Elsener.

“Do you know what that penalty might be?” asked reporter Kayla Sullivan.

“It’s just like anything else, we’ll define it. We have what we call knucklehead penalties, and so if you act like a knucklehead we treat you a little bit like a knucklehead,” said Elsener.

VP Pence said he and the President support wearing masks.

“It’s how we keep Indiana opening up, and it’s how we open up Indiana schools,” said Pence.

He added he wants people to know he supports everything the governor has done to keep Hoosiers safe from COVID-19. 

That includes a statewide mask mandate that starts on Monday

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