Penn Harris Madison Schools requiring masks starting Tuesday

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – Penn Harris Madison Schools ruled to require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks starting on Tuesday. 

This decision was finalized in Monday’s school board meeting, which lasted almost five hours. The school board voted 5-2 in favor of a mask requirement.

The district said this requirement might not be permanent, and they will adjust the requirement over time if they need to.

“Our highest priority is safety and we know that when we invest in safety we create a positive environment so that the students can ultimately feel a sense of belonging, the PHM family and being successful and enhancing their self-esteem and self-actualization,” Dr. Jerry Thacker, PHM superintendent, said.  

Indoor masking will be based on the Indiana Department of Health’s weekly COVID-19 metrics. When the county is in the red zone, it means there is high community spread. Due to this, universal masking is required. The same goes for the orange and yellow zone metrics. Masks will be required.

Once the county reaches the blue zone, masks will be encouraged, but not required. 

Parents voiced both sides of the mask requirement.

“It was somewhat expected, I kind of figured it was coming, you know we have always been about having choices rather than mandates and with the choices, it is the least restrictive as the board talked about, and it best all around for people to have what they want rather than forcing scenarios onto people,” Bryan Jones, PHM parent, said.  

“I was happy. I want to thank Dr. Thacker and the board members for listening to the doctors, and the over 300 health professionals that signed onto that letter, because they know our community, and the experts know what is best for the kids,” Matt Branson, PHM parent, said.

Students also will be required to isolate following the confirmed exposure of COVID-19. An "exposure" is defined as a distance of three feet for 15 minutes or more in a general classroom and six feet in a non-general classroom. 

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