School mask policies continue to change by district as students start their return for the 2021-2022 school year.
Both Loveland City Schools and Lockland Local Schools switched this week from no mask mandates to universal masking, officials said.
While many Cincinnati area districts had decided to keep masks optional just a couple of weeks ago, some are switching to universal or partial mask mandates due to rising `infections of the delta variant of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking for all K-12 teachers, staff, students and visitors regardless of vaccination status, though the agency cannot require schools take their recommendation.
Earlier this month, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced a universal mask mandate for all schools. But Beshear rescinded the mandate Monday after a federal court in Covington ruling removed it from private schools and put the entire mandate in question.
In Ohio, mask policies differ by district – and sometimes by school, depending on what board of education members decide.
A letter signed by 450 physicians living and working in Southwest Ohio went out to local school boards last week urging them to implement universal mask policies.
"The delta variant is much more transmissible than previous variants, and data from our local area reflect that troubling reality. Infections are rising rapidly in all age groups and hospitalizations in our region have tripled in the past two weeks alone," the letter reads.
The letter states young kids are representing a greater proportion of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations than they were before. Some physicians expect this trend to worsen if children do not wear masks at school.
"We shouldn’t wait for Delta to spread in schools before putting mask mandates in place; we can and should act in order to prevent any unnecessary disease, death, and suffering," the letter reads.
Local districts with universal mask mandates
The following Cincinnati area school districts will require universal indoor masking for all students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status:
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Local districts with partial mask mandates
Other districts are requiring masks for elementary students only. Here are local districts with partial mask mandates:
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Local districts recommending masks
Other school districts are recommending masks for students and staff, but are not requiring masks.
In these cases, mask-wearing is optional:
Masks will be required on school buses due to federal regulations.
School leaders across the region have emphasized the fluidity of current masking guidelines. Such policies may change throughout the school year depending on COVID-19 numbers and recommendations from federal, state and local health officials.
Cincinnati.com will update this story as more districts announce their mask policies for the 2021-2022 school year.