(7-23-21) Two Auglaize County school districts told their communities that they will not be requiring masks or social distancing to start the school year.

The announcements came during board of education meetings this week.

Yesterday saw some of America’s largest school districts go completely the opposite direction.

Ohio’s largest school district, Columbus, will mandate masks for the start of the school year.

July 22, 2021 — With the start of school just weeks away, Columbus City Schools is updating its mitigation strategies for the reopening of schools and the return to in-person instruction later this month.

The District will require all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks inside buildings and on school buses for the start of the 2021-2022 school year based on recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in consultation with Columbus Public Health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking in schools for everyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use).

“Safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall is a priority, and masks provide an extra layer of protection in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” said Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO, Dr. Talisa Dixon. “Throughout this pandemic, we have relied on the guidance of our public health officials. We feel that this is the best decision for our District and community.”

Based on this new recommendation, the increase of new COVID-19 cases, and vaccine status of all students at school, the District will follow all health and safety guidelines, including:

  • Masks required for all students on the bus and in school buildings with or without vaccination;
  • Masks required for all staff in school buildings and administrative sites with or without vaccination;
  • 3-feet social distancing between students where practical;
  • Water fountains will not be used;
  • School visitors will be restricted to parents/guardians and the District’s student support partners, and visitors will be required to wear masks.

The District will continue to monitor public health guidance and update its protocols accordingly as new information becomes available.

“The pandemic is not over and case numbers are rising again because of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in our community,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “Kids need to be in the classroom where they can learn and thrive and masks are an important tool for protecting staff and students who are too young to get vaccinated.”

Guidance for families seeking information regarding face mask exemptions can visit the Columbus City Schools Mask Exemption Guidelines.

Sports activities, practices, and extracurricular activities, including the marching band and drill team, will resume in accordance with all health and safety guidelines. 

“I am excited to welcome our nearly 50,000 students back to the classroom. I encourage everyone in our community who is able to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible,” said Dr. Dixon. “We all play a role in ending this pandemic. Increased vaccination rates will better protect our students, staff, and the community as we return to in-person learning.”

The District’s only year-round school, Woodcrest Elementary, begins classes on Thursday, July 29. Schools on the traditional calendar start classes on August 26.

Updates regarding the District’s back-to-school reopening plans can be found at www.ccsoh.us/BacktoSchool.

The announcement yesterday by one of America’s largest school districts, Chicago Public Schools, has also mandated masks and social distancing for all students and teachers, even those who have been vaccinated.