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Akron Public Schools to require masks for all staff and students

Officials say that they made the decision after the Ohio Department of Health recommended mask-wearing inside public spaces and on buses.

AKRON, Ohio — On Monday evening, Akron Public Schools announced health and safety guidelines for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, revealing that masks will be mandatory for all staff and students while inside of buildings and on buses. 

"APS remains vigilant and consistent in our monitoring and sharing of public health information," the school district said in a presentation released on Monday. 

RELATED: Northeast Ohio school districts announce mask guidelines for 2021-22 school year

The announcement comes just hours after the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officially recommended mask-wearing in schools to avoid the spread of COVID-19. 

"While there are no mandates associated with this guidance, we believe that the recommendations we are issuing are essential to the health of Ohio’s youth and the success of the coming school year," Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for ODH, said during a press conference Monday morning. "The safety of Ohio’s children is paramount, and the preventive measures that schools take will help protect Ohio’s students. While children are less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, they’re not invincible – and most certainly can and do have the risk of becoming ill.”

RELATED: Ohio health officials 'strongly recommend' masks for unvaccinated students and staff in schools, but no mandates given in new COVID guidance

In addition to requiring masks indoors and on buses, the school system says that it will implement policies to keep kids and staff safe from COVID-19, including: 

  • Reduce average class size to 24 or fewer at the elementary schools
  • Continue to follow all sanitation and safety requirements of the Summit County Public Health 
  • Consulting local, state, and national health officials to keep policies up to date
  • Review COVID-19 guidelines on a monthly basis
  • Reduce the number of visitors permitted in buildings
  • Require COVID-19 testing for athletics

On July 21, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon announced that students, staff, and guests will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, for the first five weeks of the school year. Gordon says this policy will be updated as additional guidance is released.