Kettering updates COVID protocol: Students must wear masks in classroom

Mask mandate, which begins Monday, does not apply to teachers or staff.

Credit: Nick Blizzard

Credit: Nick Blizzard

EDITOR’S NOTE: Centerville’s mask requirement is for grades K-5. This story has been corrected from an earlier version.

Kettering students will be required to wear face masks under what its superintendent called a compromise.

The COVID-19 policy was recommended by Superintendent Scott Inskeep and accepted by the board of education Tuesday after more than 25 people addressed the board for a combined two-plus hours. About 100 people attended the meeting in Fairmont High School’s Recital Hall.

The mask mandate applies only to students while they are in the classroom, and will begin Monday. Also, there are exemptions for special needs and religious issues, Inskeep said.

Masks were optional for all students and staff since returning to in-person instruction Aug. 12.

Protesters held signs against s mask mandate for Kettering students before Tuesday night’s school board meeting. One read: “Masking kids is child abuse,” one repeated “freedom over fear” five times and another said “unmask our kids.”

Inskeep announced last week he was poised to offer a different approach after “an increase in our first seven days of classes of both COVID-19 cases and resulting required quarantines among students and staff members.”

Credit: Nick Blizzard

Credit: Nick Blizzard

Inskeep said the rise in district coronavirus cases and required quarantines were “coupled with the extremely strong recommendation” this month from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and state Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff “to revisit decisions regarding masking.”

Many districts have made decisions on masking requirements or changed them in recent days. Dayton Public Schools earlier this month announced a mask mandate for all students and staff, while Fairborn did so last week.

Beavercreek said it would require masks for K-6 students, and a revised recommendation is in the works in Centerville.

Centerville has required masks for students and staff in grades five or below. But board members asked Superintendent Tom Henderson on Monday night to come up with another plan after increased coronavirus cases at the middle schools and Centerville High School.

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