March 2, 2021

Volume XI, Number 61


March 01, 2021

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Masks To Be Mandatory In Indiana Schools, Governor Says


  • New Executive Order effective July 27, 2020, will require Indiana students in grades 3-12, faculty, staff, volunteers, and anyone else in schools to wear face coverings
  • Exceptions will be granted for strenuous physical activity, medical or health purposes, and disabilities, exercising, and eating and drinking
  • The Executive Order has not yet been signed and may contain additional exceptions that were not mentioned upon its announcement

On July 22, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his plan to sign an Executive Order that will require face coverings to be worn in public indoor spaces, commercial entities, public transportation, and outdoor public space when social distancing from non-household members cannot be achieved. According to the announcement, the mandate will become effective July 27, 2020.  

What is clear is that students in grades 3-12, faculty, staff, volunteers, and anyone else who will be in the schools will be required to wear a mask. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) had released on June 5 Indiana’s Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools, IN-CLASS, the state’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Re-entry Guidance document for schools. IN-CLASS had recommended that all employees and students wear cloth face coverings, but specifically noted that students could forego the use of a mask when social distancing. 

However, the forthcoming Executive Order now will require the use of masks in schools by students as well, including during co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, with exceptions for strenuous physical activity, medical or health purposes, disabilities, exercising, and eating and drinking. Gov. Holcomb indicated that enforcement of this requirement will have an emphasis on education.  

The announcement highlighted that face coverings can be made of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk or linen, and can include a plastic face shield that covers the nose and mouth. Face coverings may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items, including scarves, bandannas, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels. 

But for certain student populations, the use of face coverings by teachers may impede the education process. These include students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students receiving speech/language services, young students in early education programs, and English-language learners. There are products (e.g., face coverings with clear panels in the front and face shields) to facilitate the best possible communication among these populations. The IDOE offers a list of resources to locate such face covering options.

The Executive Order has not yet been published and may contain additional exceptions that were not mentioned at the press conference.  

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 206



About this Author

Taylor Hunter, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Indianapolis, Labor and Employment Attorney
Staff Attorney

Taylor L. Hunter is a staff attorney and member of the Labor and Employment Law Department in Barnes & Thornburg’s Indianapolis office. Ms. Hunter focuses her practice in the area of education law with an emphasis on employment and student disability matters.

Before joining Barnes & Thornburg as a staff attorney, Ms. Hunter gained experience as an associate with an Indianapolis-based law firm where she assisted in the areas of family law, traffic issues, small claims, criminal law and litigation.

Jason Clagg Labor & Employment Attorney

Jason Clagg is a labor and employment lawyer who also serves as vice chair of the firm's Higher Education group. Jason is personally dedicated to providing his clients with prompt attention and clear, definitive guidance.

With a practice focused exclusively on management interests, Jason routinely represents employers in state and federal court, before administrative agencies such as the Department of Labor (DOL), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in labor arbitrations. Jason has effectively represented management...