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CPS votes for universal indoor masking to start school year

It’s one of the few Tri-State school districts to impose a mask mandate as the fall semester approaches.
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:06 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education on Wednesday night voted unanimously to require masks indoors for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

The policy applies both to vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

Masks will not be required outdoors.

If a student comes into contact with someone who has COVID-19, the student’s family will be notified. The student may continue to attend school if they don’t have any symptoms.

Right now 70 percent of CPS staffmembers are vaccinated.

CPS students return to the classroom Aug. 19.

The board also passed a resolution opposing a new Metro busing plan that would eliminate dedicated bus routes for around 6,000 CPS students and give them regular bus passes instead.

“My concern about this is at the start of school this will be more than disastrous,” board member Eve Bolton said.

CPS “strongly objects to the plan proposed to eliminate all XTRA school routes and is urging Metro to maintain the XTRA service routes,” a district spokesperson wrote in a slide shown during the meeting.

CPS families will receive bus cards through normal channels as the district anticipates resolving the issue, the spokesperson wrote.

SORTA’s next meeting is tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Masks in schools

School districts face a difficult choice on masks as cases of COVID-19, nearly all comprising the delta variant, surge across the nation.

Ohio reported 2,167 newly confirmed cases on Tuesday, a number not seen since April.

The vaccines remain extremely effective against the delta variant, particularly with regard to severe illness, but breakthrough infections can occur, and even non-symptomatic, vaccinated carriers can transmit it to others.

That puts educators in a bind, as the vaccines are currently only approved for those 12 and up, and vaccination rates among school-aged children remain low.

Moreover, the delta variant is so much more transmissible than the original virus that it renders epidemiological tools like contact tracing less effective, possibly resulting in large, revolving quarantines that could make in-person learning unworkable.

Masks remain a favorite choice among policymakers for slowing transmission of the virus.

After shifting course last week, the CDC now recommends both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends universal masking in schools.

However, the Ohio Department of Health recently decided against imposing a statewide mask mandate for Ohio schools.

In the absence of that statewide mandate, school districts—including Ohio’s largest—have announced mask mandates of their own.

In the Tri-State, several universities have announced universal mask mandates.

But few secondary schools have followed suit, preferring to recommend—sometimes “strongly”—masks among unvaccinated students, faculty and staff.

Enforcing a mask mandate only among unvaccinated students presents problems of its own, educators have said.

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