Huber Heights schools choose not to reinstate mask mandate

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Huber Heights school board on Monday decided for the second time since October to not have students and staff wear masks.

The board did shorten the COVID-19 quarantine period from 10 to five days, in accordance with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and chose not to continue to send letters home to parents every time a student tested positive in the student’s building.

School board President Robert Mullins moved to vote on only part of Superintendent Mario Basora’s recommendations. Board members argued that a mask mandate would not address what the district felt was the real issue, which was not enough staffing.

“If we have no staff, we have no education,” said board member William Harris.

Basora told the board that not sending letters to parents would take less time for staff and parents already are getting notifications almost daily for positive cases. Basora said the district would continue to notify parents of close contacts.

District spokeswoman Cassie Dietrich said moving the school guidelines in line with the CDC’s recommendations would make communicating with parents easier.

The school board in October voted against extending a mask mandate.

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The consideration comes as one district building has closed due to illness. Valley Forge Elementary School told parents that classes will be virtual this week due to short staffing.

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Basora called the virtual option a “last resort” in a Friday letter to parents.

“At this time, the number of staff out with illness combined with a nationwide shortage of qualified substitutes has made maintaining a safe and quality in-person learning environment unfeasible at Valley Forge Elementary,” Basora said.

COVID-19 cases have exploded locally, across Ohio and around the U.S., causing many school districts to adjust plans for classes on the fly.

School officials said students will learn “synchronously” (following the normal Valley Forge time schedule) using their school-issued Chromebooks. They encouraged parents and students to watch the student’s email, Google Classroom and Seesaw accounts closely for further information from teachers regarding Google Meets, online assignments and more. Parents and students also can email teachers with questions.

Students are expected to return to in-person classes on Tuesday. Classes are not in session Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Basora said.

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