( Columbus ) - The Ohio Department of Health is not mandating masks for the 2021-2022 school year, but in a news conference on Monday, Dr Bruce Vanderhoff said masking is strongly recommended for those unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Ohio is seeing a steady increase in cases, largely among the unvaccinated, and Dr Vanderhoff says vaccinations remain the number one tool to fight the spread of coronavirus. The vaccine is available for anyone 12 and older, and as such, ODH is recommending that schools adopt a mask policy for those who have not, or can not, get the shot.
Dr Vanderhoff outlined the 3 layers of (strongly) recommended protection for schools:
- vaccinate eligible staff and students
- those who are unvaccinated consistently wear masks indoors
- additional measures like improving ventilation, distancing, and good hand sanitation
Governor Mike DeWine has said it will be up to individual school districts what their policies will be. Dr Vanderhoff points out that, even if a district does not institute a mask mandate, parents can still choose to have their children wear masks at school.
Columbus City Schools, the largest public school district in Ohio, has already announced that all students and staff must wear masks in school regardless of their vaccination status.
Once again, Dr Vanderhoff stressed that severe side effects from the vaccine are rare, but moreover, he's encouraging people who are hesitant to talk to their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
The full school guidance from the Ohio Department of Health will be posted on its coronavirus website no later than Tuesday.