COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new bill at the Ohio Statehouse would ban school officials from requiring masks for students, staff members, and guests. The move comes as the American Academy of Pediatrics released its guidance for schools, including everyone wearing a mask.
“They need to get back in school for their academic, social, emotional growth, but we also need to make sure that we continue to protect them and make it so they can stay in school,” said Dr. Sara Bode, medical director of school health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Bode said she’s concerned with Senate Bill 209 that would ban public schools and universities from requiring a face covering.
“Masks work, we proved this last year,” she said. “We were able to get children back to in-person learning, they were able to be indoors using the mitigation strategies we have.”
Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) is the sponsor of Senate Bill 209. He said the bill still allows local health departments to create mask mandates.
“Having any of these kind of restrictions does not seem to be logical,” he said.
This fall, schools will already be banned from requiring vaccines. Earlier this month, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill banning public schools and universities from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine until it has full FDA approval.
“If a parent wants to voluntarily have their student or so vaccinated over the age of 12, that is up to the individual family,” Brenner said. “It should not be a requirement of the schools.”
Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro worries these policies could hinder Ohio schools’ ability to remain open.
“Legislative action to tie the hands of school officials when it comes to health and safety will actually make it more likely that more extreme measures are necessary rather than less,” DiMauro said.
Lawmakers are on summer break and are planning to return in September.