By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent said Friday morning that there is no connection between the school district’s decision this week to reinstate a mask mandate and access to COVID relief money.
Responding to a request for comment, Dr. David Hoffert issued a statement Friday morning denying any connection to the board’s mask mandate vote on Tuesday to any specific funding.
Accusations that there was some kind of trade-off between the mandate and government funding have been rampant themes at two protests held in the past day in Warsaw, including one at the courthouse square Thursday night.
Hoffert said there are no funds – grants, education funds or operation funds – linked to any mask mandates.
For application to federal funds all schools, including WCS, had to submit a re-opening plan which was approved by the board in June. The re-opening plan submitted was mask-optional at the time and was fully approved previous to the decision to reinstitute a mask mandate, which became effective Friday, Sept. 10.
Mask opponents have pointed to the ESSER funds as the source.
Hanna Hodge, a 26-year-old mother, led a protest at the courthouse Thursday night that attracted more than 100 adults and students.
Hodge argued the masks are ineffective and can be unhealthy, but also claimed the mandate is tied to money.
But Hoffert said those are federal dollars that have paid for the COVID stipend for all employees, employee COVID sick days last year, PPE equipment, etc.
Hoffert added, “Our CARES Act dollars (ESSER) funds are not linked to a mask mandate and never have been.”