Columbus City Schools announced Thursday masks will be required for all students, staff, and visitors to start the new school year.
In an update Thursday, the district said the masks will be required in school buildings and on buses based on recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in consultation with Columbus Public Health.
Earlier this week, The AAP recommended masks in schools for everyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status.
“Safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall is a priority, and masks provide an extra layer of protection in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” said Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO, Dr. Talisa Dixon. “Throughout this pandemic, we have relied on the guidance of our public health officials. We feel that this is the best decision for our District and community.”
Based on these recommendations, the district will adhere to the following guidelines:
- Masks required for all students on the bus and in school buildings with or without vaccination
- Masks required for all staff in school buildings and administrative sites with or without vaccination
- 3-feet social distancing between students where practical
- Water fountains will not be used
- School visitors will be restricted to parents/guardians and the District’s student support partners, and visitors will be required to wear masks
The district says it will continue to monitor public health guidance and update its protocols.
“The pandemic is not over and case numbers are rising again because of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in our community,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “Kids need to be in the classroom where they can learn and thrive and masks are an important tool for protecting staff and students who are too young to get vaccinated.”
Sports activities, practices, and extracurricular activities, including the marching band and drill team, will resume in accordance with all health and safety guidelines, according to the district.
“I am excited to welcome our nearly 50,000 students back to the classroom. I encourage everyone in our community who is able to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible,” said Dr. Dixon. “We all play a role in ending this pandemic. Increased vaccination rates will better protect our students, staff, and the community as we return to in-person learning.”
Families looking for information regarding face mask exemptions can visit the Columbus City Schools Mask Exemption Guidelines. Updates regarding the district's back-to-school reopening plan can be found at this link.