Chagrin Falls Schools' Districtwide Mask Mandate Goes Into Effect Monday
The Chagrin Falls Schools District will implement a districtwide mask mandate starting Monday. The mandate for all grades from Pre-K through 12 follows on the heels of Gov. Mike DeWine’s strong recommendation for children to be masked in school.
The district also considered local and state COVID-19 data and guidance from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
School board President Phil Rankin said Ohio House Bill 244 also played a factor in the administration’s decision-making.
Prior to the districtwide mandate, Chagrin Falls had an indoor mask mandate in place for students and staff in kindergarten through sixth grade.
But HB 244, which goes into effect in October, states that districts cannot treat vaccinated and unvaccinated students differently. So, the district is moving to a mask mandate for everyone, Rankin said. And, he added, it will reduce the number of quarantines the district might have to enforce if there is a COVID outbreak.
“One of our primary goals is to keep students and staff in school five days a week in as safe a manner as possible,” Rankin told Ideastream Public Media on Friday. “The various positions on the matter are held so vehemently by folks, that makes it probably a more difficult decision. Other than that, it's really down to, ‘OK, what is our objective?’ Our objective is to keep kids in school as long as possible.”
An email notifying students and families of the new mask mandate went out Thursday afternoon.
Rankin said students he’s talked to have dealt with the change “pretty quickly and easily, and they just keep moving forward.”
“By and large, who do I hear from? I hear from the 5 percent on either side of the issue,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the parents support what we do. So, from the vast majority of the parents we're hearing, ‘OK, you know, we understand you did what you had to do.’”
Rankin said it’s been important to explain to parents the “variables that go into our decision process.”
On it’s COVID-19 dashboard, Chagrin Falls reports 17 positive coronavirus cases since the start of school, and five new cases (four students and one teacher) last week, between Sept. 21 and Sept. 26.
Rankin celebrates Chagrin’s low COVID-19 case numbers, and he said the best thing for the school community that can be done is “to keep them that way.”