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Government

Rep. Chris Campbell Calls On Tipp. County Commissioners To Enact K-12 Mask Mandate

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Tippecanoe School Corporation board decided in early August to reject a mask mandate (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

State Representative Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette)  is calling on Tippecanoe County Commissioners to follow the advice of the local health department and enact a mask mandate for K-12 schools. 

Since the passage of SB5, decisions about enacting health restrictions are now in the hands of local elected officials, not health departments. 

Both the Lafayette and West Lafayette School Corporations have enacted K-12 mask mandates. Tippecanoe School Corporation decided against a mandate.

Even while making different decisions about masking, officials with the Lafayette School Corporation and the Tippecanoe School Corporation have voiced frustration about making decisions they say are best left to health experts.

County commissioners have so far disagreed. Commissioner Tom Murtaugh has said he still supports SB5 giving local elected officials the power to decide whether to enact health restrictions. 

Representative Campbell said the authority to make those decisions should never have been taken away from health experts. 

“There are decisions that should be made by elected officials. This is not one of them,” she said. “This is not filling a pothole. This is about the health of our community.”

Campbell said public consensus is not a good measurement of whether a decision is right when it comes to health. 

“We can’t take a consensus on when COVID is going to go away or what’s the best medicine to take,” she said. “It needs to be in the hands of professionals who are set up to manage these decisions.”

Campbell said she was “blindsided” by the Tippecanoe School Board’s decision to vote against a mask mandate. Campbell said she attended a subsequent board meeting where parents discussed the issue of masks. 

“I heard parents speak very passionately on both sides of the issue,” she said. “I saw these elected officials were put between a rock and a hard place that they should not have been put in.”

 

In a statement, county commissioner Tom Murtaugh said he appreciated the Representative’s comments “as we do the hundreds of comments we have received on both sides of the mask mandate issue.”

 

Edit: This story was updated to include comment from Commissioner Tom Murtaugh.