Mask wearing opponents demonstrate outside Carroll H.S., protesting NACS new face covering mandate

Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS)
Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS)(WPTA)
Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - It was a day of adjustment Wednesday for students, teachers, and staff at Carroll High School and other Northwest Allen County schools.

A mask mandate reinstated earlier this week by the school board is now in effect, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The mask policy change happened over the passionate objections of opponents.

School officials say around 15 to 20 students approached the high school Wednesday morning without masks on.

Face coverings were offered to them. Some put them on and entered, while others turned around and went home.

Those absences will count as undocumented. You’re allowed ten such absences per year before it triggers corrective action by administrators.

People unhappy about the policy change showed up in front of Carroll High School at the start of the school day to protest.

Several dozen folks carried signs, reading, “Unmask NACS students now.”At Monday night’s school board meeting, where the mandate was put in force by a vote of 3-2, opponents chanted “Re-vote, Re-vote” and shouted at school officials and doctors who lobbied for the mask requirement as an effective way to combat spread of COVID.

Long-time board member Ron Felger, who voted in favor of the mandate, says he was disappointed in the tone of that meeting.

“You know when people just shout people down, quite frankly I’m much more persuaded by reasonable, intelligent input and conversation than just people starting to chant and make catcalls at members of the board,” Felger said.

Felger claims he’s not sure if he’ll run for re-election and admits the ugly squabbling over the masking issue will be a factor in his decision.

One of the protesters outside Carroll Wednesday was the wife of NACS Board President Kent Somers.

When we asked Lisa Bobay-Somers why she came to carry a picket sign, she didn’t hesitate.

“Because they’ve put our kids back in masks. We are concerned for their health, this is very bad for them, it’s bad for them developmentally, bad for them emotionally,” Bobay-Somers said.

It’s important to note there is no scientific evidence that supports masks are bad for kids’ physical or mental health.

We also spoke with Claire South, an instructional assistant at Carroll, who is now out of a job.

She was confronted about not wearing a mask in a study hall classroom. She told administrators she stays at least six feet away from others and that under the district’s new masking policy that qualified her for an exemption.

Administrators did not agree with her reading of the policy language and told her if she didn’t wear a mask she would have to resign.

South claims she was fine with walking away from her position.

“Unfortunately, it’s an organization I can’t support now because, you know, stripping freedoms of people and not giving them the time and consideration and acting like their reasoning and personal beliefs isn’t worth your time, I’m not sad,” she said.

The NACS mask mandate is set to extend through October 14, though if the COVID illness picture gets worse in Allen County, there’s potential for the policy to carry on past that date.

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