HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — Hilliard students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth will be required to wear facemasks to begin the school year.

The district announced its mask policy Tuesday after the board gave Superintendent David Stewart the authority to set it at its meeting Monday night.

Masks will not be required in grades seven through 12, but will be strongly encouraged in what’s being called a “mask friendly” environment.

Masks will not be required outside. All unvaccinated staff will be required to wear a mask, and masks will be required on buses, per federal mandate.

“I can assure you that nobody is excited about the fact that we are once again faced with these difficult decisions,” Stewart said. “Please know that they have been made after a great deal of deliberation and with a focus on student safety and our ability to keep students in school every day.”

Very much like Monday night’s school board meeting, there are mixed emotions on the policy, and parents aren’t 100 percent satisfied either way.

“The choice to wear a mask just like any other health-related decision should land with the parents and not with the schools,” said parent Beth Murdoch.

Some stand by the masking as a choice, while others approve of requiring it for young students.

“I mean, I would prefer that all grade levels be masked, but I think the important thing is, as things change And research develops, that he can make adjustments to the plan,” said parent Ashley Hammac.

Lisa Chaffee believes the decision should have been made by the school board and not the district’s superintendent.

“I really think the board abdicated its authority and has taken away our rights as parents,” said Chaffee, who said she’s for optional masking. “They’ve taken away our ability to choose what’s best for our children.”

Federal, state, and local agencies have put out recommendations, some calling for the unvaccinated to mask up and others calling for universal masking for all students.

“I don’t want children getting me or the teachers sick,” said Hilliard resident Sarah Weiler. “I don’t want them getting each other sick. I think whether you’re vaccinated or not, right now, everybody should be wearing a mask.”

The resolution passed by the board Monday allows the superintendent to change mask policy based on COVID-19 numbers, student and staff absences, and the local COVID-19 positivity rate.

“Give us your data that you’re basing this off and remember, emotions are running high and you aren’t going to e able to please everybody,” Chaffee said.

“(It’s) better to be proactive than reactive,” Hammac said.