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Education

Tippecanoe School Corporation Board Votes 4-3 Against A Mask Mandate

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Parents carrying signs against requiring masking in Tippecanoe schools (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

At an emergency meeting of the Tippecanoe School Corporation Board Wednesday night board members voted 4-3 against revising their school reopening plan to require masks. 

The board room was filled with parents holding signs opposing masks. 

Over the past week Purdue University, West Lafayette Community School Corporation, and Lafayette School Corporation have all moved to require masking indoors regardless of vaccination status.

The meeting got off to a rocky start as Board President Dr. Patrick Hein repeatedly lost Vice President Linda Day as she called in virtually to second the motion to bring a revised reopening plan to the floor. One attendee pointedly asked, “Why are we all looking for one person for this motion?”

Parents burst into applause after board member Joshua Loggins laid out his position: that it would be unfair to require masking without offering an online schooling component where students could remain unmasked if they chose. He said his kids will be masked.

“But for those that don’t choose that, I don’t want to exclude them from a TSC education,” he said. 

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Dr. Patrick Hein moves to adjourn after the mask mandate fails (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Hein tried appealing to science and the rise of COVID-19 cases across the state and country. 

“We are also hearing more stringent recommendations from the health experts who are trained more than anyone here in this room,” he said.

As discussion continued among the board members, it became clear there was a tie.

Secretary Brian DeFreese, attending the meeting remotely, was the deciding vote. 

“I’ve spent countless hours researching with reliable research, not just on the internet,” he said. “And it really is not clear whether those who are in fear, if they wear a mask, will that protect them?”

After the revised plan failed to pass, board member Loggins, who had voted against the plan, suggested letting their school district physician alert them when COVID numbers were bad enough to switch to require masking. 

Vice President Linda Day pointed out that the district physician had already recommended masking. 

“He already said that,” she said. “He said that yesterday!”

Loggins fired back that the number could be based on positivity in the school. 

“We haven’t started school so we don’t have a positivity rate in our school yet,” he said.

“So because we’re a week out it’s going to just magically go away?” Linda responded. 

Guidance from the CDC, Indiana Department of Health, and the Tippecanoe County Health Department has also urged masking be required in schools regardless of vaccination status. 

The first day of school is Aug. 11.