Zionsville Community Schools votes to require masks for children younger than 12

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The Zionsville Community Schools Board of Trustees on July 28 voted 3-2 to require children younger than 12 to wear masks in its schools, a decision strongly opposed by many ZCS parents.

At the board’s July 12 meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of adopting ZCS Supt. Scott Robison’s recommendation at the time that masks be optional and “strongly recommended” for all students. On July 26, Robison sent an email to ZCS parents explaining he recommended the board, in a public meeting, vote to require students younger than 12 wear masks, in light of new recommendations he received from the Boone County Health Dept. 

Before the July 28 meeting, the BCHD issued new guidance, which advised “consistent and correct mask wearing in an indoor congregate setting, such as schools, for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while community transmission is substantial or high.”

Many ZCS parents attended the July 28 meeting, with some carrying signs showing their opposition to face masks. Numerous parents who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting said they were upset with the board’s decision to reconsider its mask policy 16 days after having previously voted on it and five days before school was scheduled to begin. Some said they would pull their kids from school, even if it meant enrolling them in another school that doesn’t require masks or homeschooling them.

During the meeting, ZCS Board of Trustees President Debbie Ungar and ZCS Board of Trustees members Michael Berg and Katie Aeschliman voted in favor of requiring masks. ZCS Board of Trustees members Jeff Papa and Michael Coussens voted against it.

On July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance that suggested all students, teachers and school staff be required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status. The new guidance from the CDC and BCHD comes as the delta variant of the virus has led to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state and across the nation.

The board’s decision did not address mask requirements for teachers, staff and other school officials. Robison said ZCS officials would discuss the matter in coming days and come to a decision whether they will be required to wear masks before school starts Aug. 3. The board’s decision July 28, modified its prior July 12 decision, indicating students 12 and older are still “strongly recommended” to wear face coverings but are not required to do so.

Robison said his recommendation was done with the aim to “ensure 180 days of quality instruction with the fewest possible disruptions.”

This story will be updated.


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