Centerville, Kettering schools lift coronavirus face mask mandates

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

Two of Montgomery County’s most populated school districts — Centerville and Kettering — plan to not require face masks next month when they to return to five-day, in-school instruction for the first time since early 2020.

Centerville’s board of education voted 4-0 Monday night to rescind its face covering policy. The guideline has been a contentious one that Superintendent Tom Henderson recommended be lifted even as he called it a “fluid” issue subject to change.

Centerville board member John Doll said: “This whole mask issue has been a very hot topic for us in our community — as it has in other communities — and one that this board and this district has taken very seriously.”

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Doll said a recent state law prohibiting discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccinations made his vote on the face mask policy “the safest thing possible” for students and district, favoring it “because I don’t think I have a choice.”

Board member and physician Dr. Dave Roer agreed, saying the new law “put us in a bind.”

Many of the dozens at the meeting favored the decision. But Amy Boyd and Robert Kerr questioned the move.

Boyd said her 11-year-old has a compromised immune system and “her going to school with kids who aren’t wearing masks is putting her at risk.”

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Both districts said those who are unvaccinated should wear face coverings while indoors per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

COVID vaccines are not approved for children under 12 yet, meaning most elementary school students would have to wear masks to follow the CDC protocol.

Both districts also said they would offer online instruction on a case-by-case basis and that safety protocols will be finalized in the weeks ahead.

Centerville is scheduled to start classes Aug. 18 and Kettering on Aug. 12. Much of last school year, both districts offered four-day, in-person instruction with one online day.

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Kettering Superintendent Scott Inskeep announced face masks would be optional indoors late last week as a move toward normalcy.

“One of the things about this that’s very important is that any parent has a choice,” he said. “If they want to put their child in a mask they can. And I would like to hope that we can move forward with that.

“Our intent is to meet the needs of our children and get back to where things are more normal,” Inskeep said.

“We recognize that things could change. That may be out of our control,” he added. “But I think for our parents that five days a week is pretty important. So they’re able to get back and have a normal work week as well.”

Any online instruction will not be provided by Kettering teachers, he said.

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