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Multiple northwest Ohio school districts dropping mask requirement for students and staff

As a result of the changes in state quarantine requirements, the districts move from a mask requirement to masks as an option. Other districts are weighing options.

LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — Editor's note: The above video aired Oct. 26, 2021, focusing on Perrysburg Schools.

In response to Monday's announcement by the Ohio Department of Health of changes to quarantine requirements for students and staff exposed to positive COVID-19, several area schools are dropping their mask requirement. 

On Thursday, Oregon City Schools made masks optional for students, staff and visitors inside school facilities. Masks are still required on school buses.

According to Anthony Wayne Local School District Superintendent Jim Fritz, the district is moving from a mask requirement to masks as an option for staff and students starting on Wednesday. 

Fritz's letter said the district does "highly recommend that students and staff wear masks to eliminate the potential for a quarantine during an exposure at school. Please know that if an individual is wearing a mask at school and is exposed to a positive person, the individual will not be placed into quarantine unless the exposed person becomes symptomatic."

A letter from Sylvania Schools says the district also will go mask-optional starting on Wednesday. 

The letter says that while inside Sylvania school buildings, PreK through 12th-grade students and staff are eligible to participate in a "Mask to Stay protocol." 

"Please note, this new protocol is contingent on COVID exposures in the school setting or school-related activities. This does not apply to household exposures or exposures outside of the school setting or school-related activities," the letter said. 

Lake Local Schools is dropping its mask mandate effective immediately, in line with ODH and Wood County Health Department guidance, according to a letter from Superintendent Jim Witt.

Maumee City Schools will be dropping its mask requirement effective Monday, Nov. 1. According to a letter from superintendent Todd Cramer, that date was chosen due to the time needed to make the change and around 1,000 non-school personnel attending conferences in Maumee school buildings later this week. 

Otsego Local Schools is dropping its mask requirement effective immediately. 

Perrysburg Schools also updated guidelines, making masks optional for students and staff, according to the district's website. The district still "strongly recommends" face coverings for anyone indoors on school property.

Washington Local Schools will end its mask requirement Nov. 3, according to an Oct. 28 letter to families from Superintendent Kadee Anstadt. Anstadt adds that universal masking may be reinstated based on positive cases.

"As long as positive district COVID cases remain under 45 positive cases across the district, Washington Local Schools will continue to encourage, but will not require universal masking. If there is an outbreak at an individual building or positive cases exceed 45, Washington Local Schools may reinstate universal masking until cases drop below this target. As a reminder, weekly cases and quarantines are posted on our website," Anstadt writes.

Masks are required in all WLS buildings until Nov. 3.

All students and staff are still required to wear a mask on a school bus or van per federal requirements, regardless of a school district's decision regarding masks elsewhere. This mask requirement on buses and vans is set to expire on Jan. 18.

So far, two districts will be keeping their mask requirements for now. 

Rossford Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday to continue its mask requirement for students and staff. The board voted to adhere to the new quarantine guidelines issued by the Ohio Department of Health. Students exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom will be allowed to remain in the classroom as long as they have no symptoms.

On Friday, Springfield Local Schools said it will continue with its mask mandate through next week and then re-evaluate.

Other districts are weighing options at this time. 

Ottawa Hills on Tuesday afternoon said that for now, masks are staying put.

"At this time, we are staying the course and keeping our mask policy in place. We will continue to monitor our data but at this time we feel that it is the right decision for our district," said Superintendent Adam Fineske."We are very excited about the new quarantine guidance that came out and that students now more than ever will be able to remain in person for learning."