Sep. 17—Just over 60% of Dayton-area schools and districts are currently operating with mask mandates as a COVID-19 surge continues across Ohio.
The Dayton Daily News this week sought out the mask policy of local public school districts and career tech centers, as well as the largest charter schools and private high schools.
Of those 57 schools and districts, 31 have a full mask mandate (required for all students and staff), five have partial mask mandates (most elementary school only), and 20 list masks as recommended but optional.
Full mask mandate (31)
Montgomery County: Dayton, Centerville, Kettering, Huber Heights, Miamisburg, Northmont, West Carrollton, Trotwood-Madison, Valley View, Northridge, Jefferson Twp., Carroll HS, Chaminade Julienne HS, Miami Valley School, Dayton Regional STEM School, Miami Valley CTC, DECA charter schools, Horizon Science charter schools, Emerson, Pathway and North Dayton charter schools
Greene County: Beavercreek, Fairborn, Xenia, Greeneview, Yellow Springs, Cedar Cliff, Greene County Career Center
Other: Troy, Lebanon, Tecumseh
Partial mask mandate (5)
Elementary schools only: Mad River, Oakwood, Bellbrook, Springboro
Staff only (students optional): Legacy Christian
Masks recommended but optional (21)
Miami County: Tipp City, Piqua, Miami East, Milton-Union, Bethel, Covington, Newton, Bradford, Troy Christian, Upper Valley Career Center
Montgomery County: Vandalia-Butler, Brookville, New Lebanon, Alter HS, Dayton Christian—
Warren County: Franklin, Carlisle, Waynesville, Warren County Career Center
Other: Greenon, Eaton
Dayton Christian has continued its mask-optional policy for students, but its middle school and high school are halfway through a two-week "mitigation period" after seeing a high number of faculty and staff absent due to COVID and other illnesses.
"This mitigation period had several steps including moving to a full block schedule, minimizing large gatherings like chapel, moving lunch to outdoors, and requiring faculty and staff on those levels to wear masks or shields," school spokeswoman Julie Thompson said. "We've already seen improvements after just one week on that plan."
Under current federal rules, all students have to wear masks on school buses, but the mask policy everywhere else is up to each individual school or district. Gov. Mike DeWine and leaders of Ohio's children's hospitals pleaded with school officials this week to require masks during the current COVID surge.
DeWine said Friday that almost 58% of public K-12 students statewide are required to wear masks in the classroom, up from 35% on Sept. 1.
The majority of local schools that have a full mask mandate are in Montgomery and Greene counties. Six of the seven Greene County public school districts require masks for all, while the other (Bellbrook) mandates masks at the elementary level. In Montgomery County, 11 of 16 districts have full mask mandates and two require them in elementary schools.
On the other end of the scale is Miami County, where eight of the nine school districts, plus the career tech center and large Christian school all list masks as optional. Most echo state and county health officials in recommending masks, but they don't require them.
Alter High School in Kettering is another school that takes the optional route, but Principal Lourdes Lambert said they're taking other COVID safety steps.
"We continue to welcome and encourage masks in our school, but we do not currently require them," Lambert said. "We have continued to keep the desks in the classrooms 6 feet apart ... our cleaning protocols remain what they were last year, and we, of course, follow the CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine if and when a student is exposed to COVID-19."
Some schools that have mask mandates have listed specific dates when they will re-evaluate those policies — Oct. 1 for Carroll High School and the Tecumseh district, and Oct. 8 for Chaminade Julienne.
Springboro schools said they saw a downward trend in positive COVID cases the past two weeks, and are continuing to work with guidance from county and state health officials.