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NACS parents react to optional mask policy after months of tense debate

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21)- Some NACS parents are happy for the most part with the optional mask policy for the upcoming school year.

Back in April though, tensions were high at the Northwest Allen County School board meeting. Students and parents on both sides of the mask debate speaking out.

Now nearly five months later, the district has decided to make masks optional for all students. A decision that the parents we spoke with are okay with for the most part.

"I think that as long as everyone has the choice to do what the feel is best for them and their kids then that's the best situation," Travis Striggle said.

"I was initially kind of excited I thought we were making progress to go mask choice nobody's a fan of masks,"Julie Konow said.

Konow and Erin Salyers say they want to ditch the masks too, but only if and when its safe for all students.

"I care about all the kids in my school district and I really feel for the people who are deciding whether or not to send their kids in person. I think it's great that our school is offering remote again but I know that's just not a great option," Konow said.

Konow's daughter Regan will be a sophomore this year at Caroll and is fully vaccinated. Salyers two daughters have't been able to get the shot yet because one of them is too young and the other is waiting for approval from her doctor. They say their daughters have been very understanding throughout the pandemic and want to do what's best for others around them.

"My kids are totally fine wearing masks it didn't bother them at all, one of my kids did remote last year and my 11-year-old went back halfway through and had no issue with the mask at school she would come home from school and leave it on for like an hour and I'm like 'honey you can take it off'," Salyers said.

The ladies say the NACS community used to be tight-knit, but now the mask debate has made the environment tense.

"I really would love for us to see what we have in common and hopefully at the end of the day what we really want is for all kids to be safe and healthy in their schools," Konow said.

Travis Striggle agrees that it is shame to see the divisiveness within the community, and believes people should come together.

"I think that we used to have a really tight knit close community in Northwest Allen County Schools and this has been an issue that seemed to divide us pretty well unfortunately and that's not what I want I don't want to see us divided but ultimately I want mask choice for my kids," Striggle said.

Striggle is a member of the Facebook group "Be Not Afraid 365", he says its a faith based group made up of parents all across the state.

"Concerned parents and members of the community that want to see things shift in our schools in a more conservative mind set," Striggle said.

He has two young daughters, and says he's made the decision to have them go maskless to school but he fears they may face judgement.

"When my daughters go to school without a mask they might be outcast for those kids that are wearing masks so I'm afraid that its going to create a big divide among students in our schools this year," Striggle said.

As the school year gets underway, no matter what side of the debate these parents are on they all want whats best for their kids.

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Arielle Cadet

Arielle Cadet joined WPTA in August 2019. The Atlanta, Georgia native graduated from the University of Missouri and serves as Weekend Anchor/MMJ for ABC21. Feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or shoot her an email at acadet@WPTA21.com.

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