Masks required for K-8 at NH
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Masks are back in full effect at North Harrison Community School Corp. for students and adults in kindergarten through eighth grade, at least for a couple weeks.
The school corporation’s board of trustees had its monthly meeting Thursday and addressed the current rise in COVID-19 cases in the county. As of Monday, North Harrison had 34 active student cases — two at North Harrison High School, five at North Harrison Middle School, nine at North Harrison Elementary School and 18 at Morgan Elementary School. It also had nine active adult cases, two at NHHS and seven at MES.
Because of the seemingly increased number of positive cases in the younger population, and due to the fact that vaccination opportunities are not offered to children younger than 12, the board believed it was the safest and most effective option to mandate masks for the elementary and middle schools.
Two parents of students in North Harrison schools spoke at the meeting as well, asking for the mandate to occur. One parent noted her child had tested positive for COVID recently and school was the only possibility for where her child could have contracted the virus.
School board vice president Kerry Ingle said, while he had been opposed to masks in school for the start of the academic year, he has since changed his mind as he wanted to do all he could to keep the doors open for students this school year.
“Things are changing in our county and surrounding counties in regards to COVID,” Ingle said. “I think we should mask up but be flexible. We would not be doing our job if we didn’t. My biggest concern is making sure these students can learn in person this year.”
Each of the other four board members echoed his sentiments, some saying they had talked to experts in the medical field to better understand the mask reasoning and that everyone thought it was the next necessary step to achieving a successful school year.
Dr. Lance Richards, superintendent of the school corporation, said he has been looking at data in regard to the virus and how it is directly impacting the North Harrison community when deciding on implementing a mask mandate.
“We can’t deny what we are seeing in positivity rates,” Richards said. “We have to try something different. What we do know is that none of us want to go back to eLearning or canceling football games. We have learned a great deal, but, in the seven days we have been in school, we are seeing transmission amongst students that we didn’t see prior. Kids are developing symptoms more quickly, and that is scary for us.”
While this mandate will not affect high school students, he said numerous times for kids to stay at home if they do not feel well in hopes that the spread will slow in the younger students and not reach the high school level either.
The mandate, which started Monday, will last two weeks and will then be further evaluated by the administration as to whether it can cease or will need to continue.
Per a federal mandate, masks must continue to be worn on all school buses, regardless of age.
The board of trustees are scheduled to meet next on Thursday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in the NHMS cafeteria.