Masks will be required on buses and in buildings when Columbus City Schools returns to in-person instruction for the upcoming school year.
All students, staff and visitors must be masked, whether they are vaccinated or not. Following a recommendation for universal masking from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Superintendent Talisa Dixon calls masks "an extra layer of protection in reducing transmission".
In addition, a 3-foot social distance between students will be required where practical, water fountains will not be used, and visitors will be limited to parents, guardians and the district's support partners.
Sports practices, games, and extracurricular activities including marching band and drill teams will return, in accordance with health and safety guidelines, and the district will continue to work with state and local health partners.
Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts encouraged a return to in-person instruction this spring, saying students benefited from the interaction. But with the numbers of cases rising in recent weeks, and a low rate of vaccination in some areas, she also sees masks as a tool to protect students who are too young to be vaccinated.
The Cleveland Metropolitan Schools announced a similar policy this week, and many districts are considering at least starting the school year with masks in place. A bill introduced in the Ohio Senate this month would prohibit public schools and universities from mandating masks. The Legislature will not vote on the proposal before September. If passed, it would not go into effect for 90 days.
Columbus City School students return to classrooms August 26th. Woodcrest Elelmentary, the district's only year-round school, starts next Thursday, July 29th.