School board votes masks are back


Juniors, Emily Barbus, Emma Vatnsdal, Laura Eaken and Margot Grotland wear masks in a crowded area as they exit the building during a fire drill. Students and faculty are required to wear masks inside the building as of August 16.

Will Kaiser

After two years of a long war against the Coronavirus, another blow to the return of a “pre COVID” normal was struck. The Washington Township Board of Education changed the guidelines so that all students will have to wear a mask at school, no matter what their vaccination status is. This is in response to rising COVID-19 cases, the delta variant and after several new guidelines. North Central is not alone; all IPS schools already have a mask mandate in place. 

The board resolution has students returning to the mask requirements seen at the end of the last school year. This decision was made after COVID-19 cases rose in the weeks since they allowed vaccinated students and staff to no longer wear masks indoors. 

“The board reviews all guidance from the perspective of making the best health decision for Washington Township Schools. As we have experienced since March 2020, the pandemic remains unpredictable, and data along with guidance must continue to guide decision making,”  Assistant Superintendent, Sean Taylor, said when addressing the board on Wednesday. 

Students coming back to a mask mandate means that the many vaccinated students who were not wearing masks will no longer be able to have many of the privileges that were afforded by the previous board resolution. There will be significant changes for many students that began to feel a bit more normal since school started. 

“I don’t think vaccinated people should have to wear a mask, though a lot of people are not getting vaccinated. We need to protect the unvaccinated, so masks should be required for everyone. I think everyone should get vaccinated except for those who have medical exceptions,” junior Margot Grotland said. Some students look at masks as common sense during these times.

 “Things are not always going to go how we want and might not always be fair. What I mean by this is we have to better ourselves to help each other. Please help create better times for others and wear your mask, so we all stay healthy and safe. Plus who likes Zoom,” junior Keylin Bryant said. 

Though students seem to be focused on the school environment, some teachers are focused on keeping the gains they’ve made, like being in school. 

“I want to do whatever we can to keep the kids in school. Whatever that says as far as the administration and science behind it, we need to follow. The biggest thing is that I don’t want to go back to teaching on zoom,” business and AVID teacher at JEL, Kevin Kreinhagen, said. 

At the younger ages, significant changes have to be made with the K-5 students and how they will be learning with masks. 

“My wife teaches elementary, and I think masks can impact the younger ages. They are learning different curriculums. They do more activities like speaking, more than high schoolers do,” Kreinhagen said. 

Exemptions to this new rule are being brought back as well, though the requirements to receive exemption are limited. For example, students with a disability, who cannot wear a mask because of health reasons, will be exempt from wearing a mask. People who are hearing and speaking impaired, putting them in a situation where masks would create a gap towards them communicating, don’t have to wear one either. They also will allow athletes, who are doing strenuous activity, to take off their masks, similar to how it was last year during.