Some local schools never had a mask mandate this fall. As of mid-September, when the Delta variant of COVID was surging, 31 Dayton-area schools and districts had full mask mandates, five had partial mandates, and 21 had no mandate.
Springboro dropped its mask mandate for preschool through sixth grade on Nov. 1, said district spokesman Scott Marshall. Masks are optional but strongly recommended, as they have been for grades 7-12 all school year, he said.
Given the state’s quarantine change, “along with a continual downward trend of positive cases throughout” the district and across Ohio “over the last four weeks, the decision was made to lift our mask requirement,” Marshall said. “Our initial mask requirement was implemented to keep students in school.”
Springboro’s decision came the same week federal emergency use authorization was granted for coronavirus vaccines for those ages 5 to 11. That age group began getting shots Wednesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
The 21-day average of statewide COVID-19 cases dropped last week, according to the Ohio Department of Health. On Thursday, Ohio was averaging 3,580 new cases a day. A month prior, the state’s 21-day average was 6,179 new cases a day, ODH data showed.
The decision to drop Huber Heights’ mask requirement for all grades came Oct. 16, when the board of education let it expire. Superintendent Mario Basora recommended the mandate be extended through Nov. 13.
Huber Heights chose at the start of the school year not to ask individuals who were near a COVID positive case to quarantine, but guardians could choose to keep kids home if they wanted to.
Tipp City Exempted Village Schools has not mandated masks this school year, said Superintendent Mark Stefanik.
Mask changes in two of the area’s largest districts — Centerville and Kettering — may be considered by the end of 2021, officials said.
The issue has been hotly debated at some school board meetings in both districts.
Superintendent Scott Inskeep said Kettering is partnering with Rite Aid to hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Nov. 13 and Dec. 4.
“It makes sense to revisit our mask mandate and to consider the possibility of returning to ‘parental choice’ for mask wearing,” Inskeep said. For now, masks are required in all classrooms.
“I anticipate that I will be making a decision as to whether we will change our mask mandate when students and staff return to school after winter break,” Inskeep added.
Centerville, meanwhile, requires masks be worn by all in its facilities.
The district is “continuing to discuss our health and safety protocols as vaccine access is expanded,” spokeswoman Sarah Swan said.
Two longtime Centerville board members offered slightly different views on the policy as the district moves forward.
“As it stands now, I think it deserves re-evaluation,” John Doll said. “The numbers are going down. We still have a lot of kids across the state and across this area getting COVID. But I believe that it deserves — and the administration has already indicated that it deserves — a re-evaluation as it stands right now.
“Whether that means a change immediately or a change soon, I can’t tell you that,” Doll added. “But it certainly deserves a re-evaluation. And we told the community we would do that at the appropriate time.”
The district is “continually re-evaluating based on what is going on locally” while following national and local public health guidelines, said Dr. David Roer, a pediatrician and school board member. “And we’ll make decisions based on what is going forward and going on right now,” he added.
Here are the area schools that reported at least five new coronavirus cases last week to the Ohio Department of Health.
|School||New student cases||Cumulative student cases||New Staff cases||Cumulative staff cases||Total new cases|
|Fairborn City ||16||339||7||47||23|
|Springboro Community City||10||283||4||41||14|
|Xenia Community City||10||285||2||46||12|
|Mad River Local||9||84||1||17||10|
|Huber Heights City||7||168||3||31||10|
|Greene County Vocational School District||6||56||3||10||9|
|West Carrollton City||5||108||3||18||8|
|Tipp City Exempted Village||7||103||0||10||7|
|Miami Valley Career Tech||7||88||0||11||7|
|Warren County Vocational School||6||30||0||0||6|
|Kettering City School District||5||270||1||18||6|
|Miami East Local||5||43||0||6||5|
|Troy Christian High School||4||10||1||2||5|
|Total in our area||250||5399||59||833||309|
Staff Writers Nancy Bowman, Aimee Hancock and Eric Schwartzberg contributed to this report.