LFC Comments: The parents of the Riverside School Board in Lake County could learn a lesson from the Blanchester school district. Their school board changed their mind about wearing masks because parents spoke up. However, Riverside parents need to be aware of the very strong teachers’ union that appears to be controlling their school.
Ohio school district loosens mask regulations, defying state health recommendations
Updated May 05, 1:07 AM; Posted May 05, 1:07 AM
BLANCHESTER, Ohio — Board members for a school district in Southwest Ohio have voted to roll back mask requirements for students and staff, ignoring recommendations from state health officials on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, according to reports.
Beginning immediately, students in Blanchester Public Schools will no longer be required to wear masks while playing outside or while riding on a school bus with the windows down, Fox 19 reports. On June 1, there will be no requirement to wear masks at all, including in the district’s buildings.
The school district’s Board of Education approved the changes Monday with a 4-1 vote, reports say.
Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, questions the timing and the reasoning of the decision, WCPO Channel 9 reports.
“Why not continue to follow the state and the CDC and the medical community’s clear guidance?” DiMauro tells WCPO. “It seems blatantly illegal, but it’s also just poor judgment. There is still significant spread of COVID.”
Coronavirus cases have been declining in Ohio, but there still were 1,285 more cases reported between Monday and Tuesday. And while nearly 3.9 million people have completed the vaccine in Ohio, most students remain ineligible to receive an inoculation. The Pfizer vaccine could become eligible for children ages 12 to 15 by early next week.
Jeremy Kaehler, a member of the school board, said they made decision after parents expressed concerns about their kids being forced to wear masks, the News Journal reports. He also said a “consensus” of staff members believe wearing masks is not effective.
Centers for Disease Control, the Mayo Clinic and other health agencies say wearing masks properly is effective in stopping the spread of the virus.
The News Journal reports teachers in the district’s middle school and high school were concerned about the change in policy.
“I’m a strict parent in my house. You follow the rules and you follow the guidelines,” Michelle Elston, also a Blanchester Middle School teacher, told the school board, according to the News Journal. “I hate masks. I wish they were gone … I wear them because people who are way smarter than me have statistically proven that the mask protects others. I just don’t understand why we’re doing this.”