PICKERINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) — Pickerington public school officials say facemasks will be optional for students and staff when the school year gets underway next month.

Superintendent Dr. Chris Briggs made the announcement at the Board of Education meeting on July 26.

“The Ohio Department of Health is recommending that staff and students who are not vaccinated wear a mask in the school buildings,” Briggs said. “As such, we continue to move forward with masks optional.”

Briggs said that the district strongly recommends masks for the unvaccinated but trusts parents and staff enough to rely on the “honor system.”

“When school begins on Monday, August 16, we will welcome everyone back and trust that those parents with unvaccinated children will send them to school with a mask,” Briggs said.

The decision comes in light of Columbus City Schools’ announcement that it will require facemasks to begin the school year. CCS officials say they based their decision on recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Columbus Public Health.

Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health recommended Wednesday morning that universal mask-wearing be implemented to begin the school year. They stopped short of mandating masks in schools, however, as they did last year.