Some schools reinstate masks, others lift mandates

Several local school districts returning from winter break this week have changed their masking policies — some reinstituting requirements for face coverings while others have lifted them — and at least one district switched to remote classes amid continued record hospitalizations and daily cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.

Northridge Local Schools canceled classes on Monday, which was supposed to be the district’s first day back from winter break, and planned to have virtual classes the rest of the week, due to staff COVID-19 cases.

Northridge Superintendent David Jackson said 13 staff members reported in the past few days that they had tested positive for the virus. The district has about 100 teachers, he said, but doesn’t have sufficient substitutes to cover those who needed to be out.

Oakwood City Schools and Carroll High School recently announced that masks would be required for all students and staff beginning when students come back. Oakwood began classes Monday; Carroll resumes today.

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Other schools have rescinded their mask mandates. Troy City Schools and Miami Valley Career Technology Center announced in December they would not require masks when school came back into session.

“Our timeline matches when students of all ages within our district are able to be fully immunized,” Troy City Schools Superintendent Chris Piper.

The district will continue to monitor the situation, Piper said. Troy resumed classes Monday.

Most schools returned to classes on Monday, including Troy, while another handful, including Centerville, Northmont, Vandalia-Butler and Franklin, come back today. Huber Heights returns on Wednesday.

Public health agencies have pushed all schools to require masks.

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“Public Health recommends everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask while indoors and near others,” said Dan Suffoletto, a spokesman for Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County.

On Dec. 20, Public Health, along with Dayton Children’s Hospital, urged local schools to continue mask requirements regardless of vaccination status.

Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and Ohio Hospital Association urged school superintendents and boards of education to require masks and pleaded with parents to have their children 5 and older vaccinated against COVID-19.

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In addition, Dayton Children’s Hospital CEO Deborah Feldman signed a letter from hospitals to schools, asking them to consider mask requirements again.

Dayton Children’s Hospital reported an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations, from four patients on Dec. 27 to 22 kids on Jan. 3. As of Jan. 3, five children were in the ICU.

In Ohio 6,177 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Monday, a record since the pandemic began, according to the Ohio Department of Health. New cases statewide totaled 18,942 people, also a new daily record.

Reporters Kaitlin Schroeder and Jen Balduf contributed to this report.

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