Mask-up or personal liberty? PHM parents continue to debate masks

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A group describing themselves as concerned parents were out protesting the Penn Harris Madison School Board’s decision to make masks optional this school year.

The school board made their decision, but still a group that was out in front of the administration building on Friday wants masks for students, but another group says this issue is about freedom of choice.

“Honestly I think a lot of it is based on disinformation,” Maria Guarraci, she supports mask wearing for students and staff in PHM schools.

“We’re ok with a mask-free option, being as a parent, as an American, you are given the liberty of choice,” George Bashura says. He is the organizer of Strengthen Our Schools PHM District. That group opposes mask mandates.

Both sides aren’t covering their opinions on the mask issue. On Friday, a group was out protesting the school board’s 5-2 vote earlier this week to allow a mask-free option in Penn Harris Madison Schools.

“Masks are what we have to not only protect our kids, but to keep them in school and to keep our schools open which I’m pretty sure is the one thing all PHM parents want, is we want schools open but we want it done safely,” Guarraci says.

A group known as “Strengthen Our Schools PHM District” supports the school board’s decision to allow a mask -free option.

“As human beings we have filters, and we should be able to exercise our immune systems. To me, the only way to fight this is to fight it through our immune system,” Bashura says.

This group protesting earlier today has major concerns over the Delta variant and wants the school board to reconsider their decision.

“I just pray that no child gets very sick, but across the country where people are being ravaged by the delta virus, young kids are having problems. They’re getting sick and some of them are dying,” Dr. Dan Barrett says. He is a retired pediatrician.

Others say that personal liberty is the issue.

“We’ve never said that wearing a mask is wrong. It’s just that we were looking for a choice whether or not to wear a mask,” Bashura adds.

There’s no indication the school board plans to reconsider the mask-free option, but this group wants their opinion heard.

“Kids should be masked up in schools when they’re sharing the same airspace for up to 7 hours a day especially in elementary schools where they’re 100% unvaccinated. Masks are the best thing we’ve got,” Guarraci says.

As the delta virus cases continue to spread around the country, we’ll keep an eye on what schools are doing to keep students safe right here in Michiana.

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