Greenon schools institute temporary mask requirement

The district is also working to join COVID-19 pilot program

Greenon Local School District will require masks for all students, staff and visitors over the next month.

The temporary universal masking requirement started Monday and will be in effect through Friday, Oct. 22, due to the rise in coronavirus cases and quarantines.

“Right now, our ability to keep our students learning in-person at school is compromised... If we are to keep our kids learning safely together in school as much as possible, we need to change our plans,” said Superintendent Darrin Knapke.

According to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard for the week of Sept. 18-24, the district reported 20 positive and 102 quarantined cases.

“Over the first few weeks of school, we have had a number of students miss school due to quarantines after contact with someone who has COVID-19. As of today (Friday), 102 students or staff members are in quarantine. Since school began on Sept. 7, we have had 46 cases of COVID-19 and 262 students and staff members have been in quarantine,” Knapke said.

Along with requiring masks, Knapke said he has also talked to the school board about looking into the pilot program in Warren County that was authorized by Gov. Mike DeWine and aims to reduce school quarantines.

Knapke said he plans to work with Clark County ESC Superintendent Dan Bennett and Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson and other superintendents to see if the option is available for Greenon. “But, for the time being, while we pursue that option, we need to be able to keep our kids here at school. To do that, I recommend that we temporarily require mask to evaluate the impact on our quarantine numbers.”

DeWine asked the Ohio Department of Health earlier this month to work out the details for a pilot program proposed by Warren County’s 10 school superintendents that would allow unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 — who are healthy and exhibit no symptoms — to remain in class at schools without a mask mandate.

Under ODH guidelines, students exposed to the coronavirus should quarantine at home if they’re not vaccinated and their school doesn’t require face masks, social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention policies.

The pilot program would give families three options when an unvaccinated student, who is not wearing a mask, is identified as a close contact.

  • Traditional quarantine: Ten days at home or return to school on day seven with proof of a negative test result on day five, six, or seven.
  • Mandatory mask quarantine: If symptom-free, student is allowed to return to school wearing a mask for 10 days.
  • Modified mask and testing quarantine: If symptom-free, student is allowed to return to school wearing a mask. On day five, student will have the option to take a rapid test at school. If the test results are negative, student will continue to follow the current mask status for their specific school and grade level.

Springfield City Schools, Northeastern, Global Impact STEM Academy, Northwestern Elementary and Urbana City Schools are the other local schools to require masks. Clark-Shawnee and Tecumseh Local Schools are requiring masks through Oct. 1, and Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools has short-term masking in place for certain classes.

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