TOLEDO, Ohio — EDITOR'S NOTE: The attached video originally aired on July 26, 2021.
Before you know it, students will be returning to class for the fall semester; but what will this school year look like?
The latest school district to require masks is Ottawa Hills. The Ottawa Hills Local Schools Board of Education approved a requirement for masks to be worn by all students and staff during a meeting on Sept. 2.
Ottawa Hills Superintendent Adam Fineske explains the decision was made "based on the strict mandated directives of the TLCHD and also a priority of keeping our kids safe and in our classrooms for learning."
The updates in mask policy for Ottawa Hills and other northwest Ohio districts comes after the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released its own COVID-19 guidance for schools. No orders or mandates have been issued thus far, however, state health leaders have laid out their recommendations for a safe and healthy semester.
ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the guidance focuses on several layers of protection:
- Vaccinations for staff and eligible students
- Consistent mask use for those who are unvaccinated
- Improving ventilation
- Maximizing distance between people
- Good hand sanitation
Again, while these come as strong recommendations from the state, no official orders have been issued, and it seems unlikely there will be any time soon from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
"There's not the appetite in this state today for that type of mandate," DeWine said. "We did last year in the schools and it worked well. There's not the appetite in this state for that. I do not effectively have the ability to do that. But what I do have the ability to do and what the health department has the ability to do is to tell what the facts are."
The state's announcement came just hours before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backtracked on some of its own mask guidance.
The agency adjusted its recommendations to state that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling a surge in cases. The CDC is also recommending indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of the individual's vaccination status.
Most school districts in the Toledo area have announced mask plans for the upcoming school year. However, many of these decisions were made before the CDC updated its guidance. It is unclear if the agency's announcement will impact any of these plans. Continue to check back here for all of our back-to-class coverage.
CURRENT MASK RULES BY SCHOOL DISTRICT IN NORTHWEST OHIO
As of Sept. 2, here's a look at the mask plan for each of the Big 11 districts:
- Anthony Wayne - Masks are required starting Monday, Aug. 30
- Bedford - Masks are optional
- Bowling Green - Masks required for all students and staff
- Findlay - Masks are optional
- Maumee - Masks are required for students and staff
- Oregon - Masks required for everyone at school through at least Sept. 24.
- Perrysburg - Masks are required for all staff and students when inside any school facility
- Springfield - Masks required for students, staff and visitors for a minimum of 30 days starting Monday, Aug. 30
- Sylvania - Masks are required in all district buildings by students, staff and visitors. Masks may be removed for eating and drinking. The policy will be re-evaluated during the week of Sept. 27
- Toledo Public Schools - Masks are required for all staff and students indoors, regardless of vaccination status
- Washington Local Schools - Masks are required for all students and staff
- Lake - Masks are required for all students starting Sept. 9
- Ottawa Hills - Masks required for all students and staff (Decided Sept. 2)
- Penta Career Center - Masks required for all students, staff and guests (Decided Sept. 1)
- Rossford - Masks mandated at all grade levels
We will continue to keep you updated.