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CMSD continues its mask policy but will no longer enforce

When students returned for in-person classes in January, the district continued to mandate masks for everyone in its buildings. [Cleveland Metropolitan School District]
Kids sitting on a gym floor wearing masks

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is no longer enforcing mask wearing for students and staff, as of Monday, Feb. 28.

In an email to CMSD educators, CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said that while the district is not announcing a mask-optional policy, he is asking “all employees to suspend the enforcement of the mask policy.” 

The CDC on Friday dropped its universal masking recommendation for schools and only encouraged mask wearing in high risk communities. Cuyahoga County has dropped to the CDC’s “medium” risk level, which recommends vaccination, COVID testing if you're showing symptoms and talking with a doctor about mask wearing and other precautions if you're at high risk for severe illness.

In his letter to staff, Gordon said because Cleveland’s vaccination rate is lagging, with just over 20% of children between ages 5 to 11 vaccinated, he’s following the recommendation of local health officials and asking everyone in CMSD buildings to continue to wear a mask.

That sentiment was echoed in a statement CMSD released to the media.

“Because of the low vaccination rate among our community’s youth, we are keeping our mask requirement in place. Enforcement may not be as rigid, but the message is clear: The risk continues, and everyone who enters our buildings should wear a mask for their sake and the sake of those around them,” the statement read.

“The Cleveland Teachers Union was not involved with the update that was sent to CMSD staff on Sunday regarding the masking policy,” Cleveland Teachers Union President Shari Obrenski said in a written statement. “We have several questions regarding the statement and hope to discuss them with district officials very soon.”

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”