The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 20, 2021 8:28 pm

EACS board approves mask-optional school year

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Minutes before the East Allen County Schools board approved a mask-optional academic year, member Jenny Blackburn urged respect.

She worries about her son being picked on for choosing to wear a mask, she said. She noted she felt like an outcast for being one of a few masked people in the crowded, socially-distanced board room.

The board passed the plan — which includes guidance about quarantines, cleaning practices and visitors — in a 6-1 vote.

Member Paulette Nellems said she would rather start with masking students. She called COVID, which has affected her family, a horrible, ugly disease that is nothing like the flu.

Nellems is concerned Allen County is returning today to the yellow category for coronavirus risk, a move the Allen County health commissioner said Monday.

“The data is suggesting numbers are changing,” Nellems said.

As the oldest board member, Gayle Etzler said she remembers the polio scare, which affected children more than COVID.

“That was totally different than this,” Etzler said.

Superintendent Marilyn Hissong stressed the plan is fluid. She and board members also assured the in-person and virtual audience that they read every email and listened to every call.

“This was supposed to be a two-week deal,” member Tim Hines said. “Because of our social responsibility as a group, we've gotten to today.”

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