Crown Point, Indiana schools make face masks optional even as Lake Co. COVID cases rise

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Crown Point schools go mask optional
Even though Lake County, Indiana, COVID cases are rising, Crown Point public schools are making face masks optional.

CROWN POINT, Ind. (WLS) -- Starting Monday, more than 8,000 students that attend Crown Point, Ind.'s 12 public schools have the choice to either wear a face covering or not.

The school board decided to make masks optional two weeks ago, based upon the superintendent's recommendation.

"My kids are all vaccinated. They're OK to go and if the school say it's safe, and they're OK, then I'm OK with it," said Melissa Honikel, parent who favors lifting the mask mandate.

A letter sent to Crown Point families from the superintendent explained the district's decision, saying in part, "Our contact tracing data shows we are not seeing transmission of COVID within our school buildings, including during extracurricular activities where masks have been optional."

"My kids are not masked. My daughter had COVID so, she's got the antibodies. She's good. And she's getting the vaccine," said Megan Brock, parent in favor of lifting mask mandate.

"My daughter wears a mask and she wants to wear a mask to protect other kids. She's not necessarily doing it to protect herself," said Rob Bochnowski, parent against lifting the mask mandate.

The decision to go mask optional in schools came as Lake County, Ind.'s COVID cases are on the rise. As of Nov. 29, the positivity rate is up to nearly 12%.

Some questioned whether the decision was better off postponed until after the holidays. Bochnowski and Micah Pollak both have daughters at Lake Elementary who are not yet fully vaccinated.

"We're going into the holidays, people haven't had the time to get vaccinated. We have this new variant. And we just have a couple weeks before school breaks anyway," Pollak said. "Why do it now? Why not wait 'til the spring?"

Under the new rules, masks are still required on school buses because of federal law, and mask usage would be reinstated for a 14-day period if a school registers a positivity rate above 2%.