No mandates will be in place for upcoming school year, Ohio health officials say

With students returning to school in August, many are concerned over health and safety...
With students returning to school in August, many are concerned over health and safety protocols at schools — especially as the state sees a surge in cases.
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 11:26 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - The Ohio Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff said Monday there will be no mandates associated with the updated COVID-19 guidance for the upcoming school year.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says the state will be releasing the guidance no later than Tuesday.

The guidance will allow school districts to choose in-person or virtual classes, according to Vanderhoff.

He provided these recommendations for the school year:

  • Strongly recommend vaccines for staff and eligible students.
  • Strongly recommend consistent mask-wearing for those unvaccinated.
  • Improving ventilation, social distancing, and hand-washing remain encouraged.

“We strongly recommend vaccinations for staff and eligible students, strongly recommend unvaccinated people consistently wear masks and we recommend districts improve ventilation, maximize distance between people and follow best hand sanitization practices,” Vanderhoff said.

Students will have to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, while on the bus, ODH said.

Last week, officials with Columbus City Schools, Ohio’s largest district, said they will require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks inside buildings and on school buses for the start of the fall semester.

“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,” Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon said.

Cincinnati Public Schools have not made a decision on masks rules yet.

Also last week, Boone County Schools in Kentucky announced they will not mandate masks for students or staff inside buildings when the school year begins Aug. 18.

Masks will not be required but are recommended, regardless of the individual’s vaccination status, Superintendent Matthew Turner said.

Whether to wear a mask or not inside the school will be up to the family and student.

“We will support students and staff that choose to wear a mask and will not tolerate shaming or harassment of anyone, as we must respect their choice,” Turner said.

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