Residents mixed on Ohio’s mask recommendation for schools

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohioans had mixed reactions to the Ohio Department of Health’s recommendations Monday that masks be worn in classrooms at the start of the school year.

Some residents were hoping ODH would have done a little more, while others weren’t sure if some of it was necessary.

Lauren Davis isn’t so sure what the start of school will bring for her son Jet.

“I’m really conflicted because, obviously, people, if they aren’t made to do it, aren’t going to do it,” she said.

ODH and the state’s top doctor issued the recommendations – not mandates – Monday, with the school year starting next month.

“Our strong recommendations are vaccination if you are eligible as our preferred option,” said Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. “Our second strong recommendation is if you’re not vaccinated, your best protection right now is masking.”

The guidance is simply guidance; each district will be able to choose its own path.

“We should be in unison on whatever we do, whatever we’re going to do, we should do it together. You know what I mean?” said Columbus resident William Barnett. “Figure out what’s going to work best and we all do it.”

Barnett is skeptical about some aspects of the recommendations.

“I don’t know about the masks,” he said. “I think, in the long run, it will be the vaccinations that will help get us over the hump.”

Hilliard School District said it was working on finalizing its plan, Dublin School District is expecting to have more information later this week, and Reynoldsburg School District is scheduled to speak with health officials Tuesday.

Columbus City Schools announced a universal masking mandate late last week.

Davis is hoping vaccinations for young children are approved sooner rather than later, and hopes for the best for the start of the school year.

“I do hope, in general, the public school system goes towards masking, especially for the kids who are in first (grade) and up,” she said. “I don’t think it’ll be too much to ask.”

Along with recommended vaccinations for eligible students and masking for the unvaccinated, the state is also urging for schools to continue with social distancing and to increase ventilation when and where they can.

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