SOLON, Ohio — The Solon City School District has changed course and will now require face masks for students and staff in all grades following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Officials made the announcement this past Friday in a letter to parents, with the change going into effect as soon as school resumes this Wednesday. The mandate had previously been in place only for those in grades pre-K-6, but is now expanding to grades 7-12.
"Since Monday, we have had 15 students and 4 staff members test positive for COVID-19 and 51 students need to quarantine," the district wrote in its statement. "Without the modified state quarantine guidelines from the end of last year that are still in effect, our numbers of quarantines would be dramatically higher. This week’s positive case numbers mirror our case data between Thanksgiving and the return from Winter Break week last year."
Coronavirus numbers have been spiking in Northeast Ohio as well as around the country due to the more contagious delta variant. While the available vaccines are still quite effective in preventing serious illness (more than 97% of Ohio's 2021 COVID hospitalizations have been from unvaccinated individuals), the shots have still not been approved for children under 12, making kids in schools particularly vulnerable.
Many local school districts have either implemented or expanded mask mandates in recent weeks as the realities of the pandemic once again come to the forefront. Solon officials also cited the current Labor Day and Rosh Hashana holiday weekends as a reason for their own change, as that same period last year led to a spike once students returned.
"We will review this decision after several weeks to see if our case data warrants a shift back to strongly recommended," the letter added.