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Education

Students Cooperate, Parents Protest As Lafayette School Corp. Moves Forward With Mask Mandate

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The Lafayette School Corporation held its first day of school Tuesday, with masks required in all buildings (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Lafayette School Corporation officials say students cooperated with a mask mandate Tuesday on the first day of school.

Some parents have opposed the decision. An LSC school board meeting ended abruptly on Monday after some attendees refused to mask up. 

The corporation reversed course on making masks optional last week after advice from the CDC, Indiana Department of Health, and Tippecanoe County Health Department recommending a mask requirement in schools. 

LSC Superintendent Les Huddle said the corporation’s masking requirement was posted outside of Monday night's meeting, and masks were made available. 

“Some of them refused,” he said. “The board felt it was in the best interest and health and safety then to not continue the meeting since masks are required and this particular group decided not to follow those directions.”

According to reporting from Dave Bangert’s Based in Lafayette, some parents wondered how the superintendent could have made the decision without the school board voting to ratify the school reopening plan. 

Just last week, the Tippecanoe School Corporation board voted against instituting a mask mandate, instead keeping masking optional in school buildings. 

Huddle said the school board gave him the authority last year to make changes to the schools’ reopening plan as long as the governor’s state of health emergency was in place. 

“That doesn’t mean I as superintendent made it [the mask mandate] in isolation. There was certainly consultation with health professionals in our area and also with board members,” he said. 

Despite parent objections, Huddle said during the first day of school students have been cooperative. 

“Our students have been very cooperative,” he said. “There may be some that might balk at it a bit but it almost always works out when you sit down and are able to have a conversation and go through the whys.”

Ultimately, Huddle said he’s frustrated that the state has left the decision around masks up to schools

“You can sit on either side of recommended. You can say ‘Well, they only recommended it, so you don’t have to do it.’ Other people can say ‘Well, they recommended it so why aren’t you doing it?’ It puts our school board and others in the middle of something that is simply not our profession,” he said.

Huddle said for his part, it was important to err on the side of caution and protecting student health. 

The West Lafayette Community School Corporation is also mandating masks.

Contact reporter Ben Thorp at bthorp@purdue.edu or follow him on Twitter at @sad_radio_lad.