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Northeast Ohio schools begin altering mask requirements as Delta variant rises

The Parma City School District has decided not to require students or adults to wear masks during the upcoming school year.
Parma City School officials have decided not to require students or adults to wear masks during...
Parma City School officials have decided not to require students or adults to wear masks during the 2021-22 school year.
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 9:06 AM EDT
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PARMA, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s a race to get more Ohioans vaccinated as the highly-contagious Delta variant is on the rise across the United States, including here in Northeast Ohio.

The fast spreading variant has prompted the World Health Organization to urge fully-vaccinated people to continue wearing masks indoors.

This comes weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those who are fully vaccinated can ditch the mask in most settings.

With summer break in full swing, school districts have just a few months to decide on mask mandates for the upcoming school year.

Parma City School officials have chosen not to require students or adults to wear masks during the 2021-2022 school year, despite the fact that none of the COVID-19 vaccines are available for kids under the age of 12 yet.

As a result, the district said physical distancing will continue in its elementary schools.

COVID-19 vaccines may be available as early as this fall for kids as young as 5 years old.

Parma City Schools said its updated mask policy could change depending on future COVID-19 case numbers and guidance from the CDC.

Lisa Gonzalez is a parent in the Parma City School District.

With five kids, Gonzalez has her plate full and her mind currently on a million things, but she said COVID-19 isn’t one of them. She said she is happy district officials decided not to require masks next school year.

“As far as the kids, I don’t feel there’s any concerns,” Gonzalez told 19 News on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, other school districts in Northeast Ohio are holding off on making any plans regarding mask requirements for the upcoming school year.

“The pandemic has taught us it wouldn’t be prudent to make decisions this far in advance,” Bill Porter, superintendent of Mentor Public Schools, initially said last month. Porter then informed parents a few weeks later that mask-wearing would immediately become optional for all its students and adults (starting with summer school, camps, sports/activities, and programs.)

The district also told parents it expects mask-wearing to remain optional next school year, unless the State of Ohio or Lake County General Health District alter guidelines, recommendations or public health orders.

In related news, the Ohio Senate approved a bill on Monday that would stop schools and colleges from requiring students and faculty to get certain vaccines. This includes vaccines that have not received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Right now, all COVID-19 vaccines fall into that category.

House Bill 244 would not impact vaccine requirements at private schools or public hospitals.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was asked about the legislation during an unrelated bill signing on Tuesday, but he would not comment on the proposal.

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