Lakota, Reading schools join Middletown, Hamilton in dropping mask requirement

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:34 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:38 AM EDT
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WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Effective Monday, masks are no longer required for K-12 students and staff at Lakota Local Schools and Reading Community City School District regardless of their vaccination status, according to the districts’ websites.

Both districts still strongly recommends masks and masks are still required for students and drivers on school buses, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Preschool students also must keep wearing facial coverings, per the Butler County Educational Service Center.

The changes comes after state health officials released new quarantine guidance last week.

“If we see a spike in positive cases, we may choose to reinstate the mask requirement at any time,” Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller wrote Friday in a message to students, families and staff.

Lakota is southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school system with nearly 19,000 students from West Chester and Liberty Township in Butler County.

As of Nov. 1, Middletown City Schools also changed the district’s masking policy from “required” to “strongly recommended”. Masks are still required on buses.

Hamilton City Schools changed the district’s masking policy on Oct. 27 from “mandatory” to “strongly recommended” indoors regardless of vaccination. Masks are still required on buses.

Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff issued a statement in response to the schools’ decisions to stop requiring the use of masks.

“Despite a recent downtrend, Ohio’s COVID-19 cases remain at a very high level. We know that there are two proven ways to keep this virus at bay: Vaccinations for those who are eligible and wearing masks if you cannot get the vaccine.

“Although it is promising that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention likely will affirm the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to make vaccination available for 5-11-year-olds this week, we know that it takes a full five weeks before the vaccine provides the highest level of immunity.

“For these reasons, we continue to encourage students to wear masks in school as we await the rollout of the vaccine for younger students.”

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