Springfield to require students in grades PK-6 to wear masks

Preschool and kindergarden students walk into Shawnee Elementary School with their parents Wednesday for assessments. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Preschool and kindergarden students walk into Shawnee Elementary School with their parents Wednesday for assessments. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Reaction split over district’s decision, which takes effect Monday.

The Springfield City School District will require students from preschool through sixth grade to wear masks indoors starting Monday.

Superintended Bob Hill said in a release the decision to “add an additional layer of protection for students in grades PK-6″ came after Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference. DeWine said the best way to ensure students remain in school is to be vaccinated, but that those who cannot be vaccinated should be required to wear a mask.

“Without something to stop the virus, it will dramatically increase the number of students that have to quarantine and dramatically decrease the number of schools that can continue in person,” DeWine said during the conference.

Masks will continue to be highly recommended but optional for students in grades 7-12 , Hill said. He also reminded all students and staff they are required to wear masks on the bus.

“The safety of our students and staff is, and will always remain, our top priority,” Hill said. “We truly value the social, emotional and academic benefits of in-person learning and will take every step necessary to maintain this instructional model during the entire 2021-22 school year.”

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As of Friday afternoon, there had been no Springfield student or staff COVID cases reported, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s school district dashboard.

Local families took to the Springfield Facebook page to share their thoughts on the new mask rule.

Some agreed with the district’s decision.

“I’m so happy about this! Especially since kids this age can’t get vaccinated yet!” commented Linda Krupp Lawson.

“My son cried because he has to wear a mask. I can say it does mess with my kid’s immune systems, more congested and all, but we have to do what we have to do. Thank you for doing what has to be done,” Kelsey Stewart commented.

“Great job protecting our children. I totally agree with requiring mask usage during school hours for children, but it should be for all grade levels,” Addison Miller commented.

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Others shared thoughts on why they didn’t agree with the district’s decision.

“Masking children should be 100% up to their parents. And if you don’t feel safe sending your kid not masked, then provide them a mask. Still don’t feel safe, there are multiple homeschool options,” Tearra Kaylynn Shaw commented.

“If you’re masking elementary students, then all students should have to. It is not fair that the younger children have to and others don’t. Just because they can be vaccinated does not mean that they are,” commented Michelle Dean. “Offer virtual learning then because I do not feel comfortable that my kindergartner has to wear a mask for eight hours.”

“So, what if we the parents refuse to make our children wear a mask? It is not a state mandate but only a suggestion. I refuse to make my children sit in a classroom with a mask on,” commented Megan Cupps.

Eight out of 12 area districts initially planned to make masks optional, but highly recommended, as school officials continue to monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control, Ohio Department of Health, and local health districts.

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