Worthington school parents push for universal masking during protest

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WORTHINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) – Some parents at one central Ohio school district are looking for a policy change on the eve of the first day of school.

Parents of Worthington City Schools held a rally Tuesday requesting the district institute a mandatory mask policy for all students.

The district announced its masking policy two weeks ago, with a handful of parents saying it was the wrong move and that they’d like to see it changed before classes begin Wednesday.

Protesters called for a universal masking policy during the rally.

“I know that that’s one thing that’s hard as a superintendent,” said parent Shawna Larue Moraille. “You make those tough decisions. You can make this tough decision tonight.”

Moraille said she’s pleased students kindergarten through eighth grade will be required to wear masks, but worries about masks being optional for high school students.

“Age 12-14-year-olds are only 45 percent vaccinated,” Moraille said. “That’s less than 50 percent, and in age 15-17, are also pretty low at 63 percent vaccinated.”

A school board member confirmed that vaccination data — saying it’s from the two main zip codes in the district, 43085 and 43235.

A district spokesperson said the district consulted with local public health officials and reviewed federal, state, and local guidance regarding masking.

“The district will continue to review and consider available guidance from local, state, and national health officials with respect to the best ways to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” the district said in a statement.

“I really want my daughter to stay in the classroom this year and masks are an important part of the layered approach that we need to take in order to keep kids in the classroom,” said parent Maria Ramirez.

She said she worries for her daughter, who will be attending Thomas Worthington High School.

“As a mom, I can tell you that it is the students who will be deciding because there is no oversight to mask-wearing,” Ramirez said. “No one is going to check. As a parent, I want my child to wear a mask.”

People who passed by the protest honked in both support and in disagreement.

As of right now, the school year will start with the current policy – masks required for K-8, optional for 9-12 – in place.

“Last year, Worthington Schools, Worthington Schools have done so many things right,” Ramirez said. “They are doing this thing wrong and they have the opportunity right now to correct it.”

The first day of school in the district is Wednesday.

Worthington City Schools also hosted a week of COVID vaccination clinics last week.

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