Wearing masks during the school day is now optional after a unanimous decision by the Board of Education at their meeting Tuesday, March 1.
According to a presentation given at the meeting by Director of Facilities and Operations Harley Williams, masking will not be required of any student, staff or visitor entering the school. This includes before and after the school day, along with any extracurricular activities, he explained.
The district’s “mask-to-stay” policy will remain the same, meaning students will be instructed to wear a mask 10 days after an exposure to COVID-19, according to the presentation, and they only need to test if they begin to experience systems.
Williams explained in his presentation that this new policy was recommended by Superintendent Dr. Jason Fine and the Board using statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Franklin County and the school district regarding the decreasing number of cases and high vaccination rates.
He also noted that the CDC and the city of Bexley have changed their mask mandates and guidance in the last few weeks. Previously, masks had been mandated in all public places in Bexley, whereas they are now no longer required in any space.
Williams explained that data points show a decrease in cases, and 71% of Bexley citizens are vaccinated.
It was made clear by Superintendent Dr. Jason Fine and the Board that masks now being optional should not be a reason for any judgment from students.
“No person shall be subject to discipline, harassment or other mistreatment for choosing to voluntarily wear a mask or for not wearing a mask,” Williams stated.
The Board meeting also allowed for several public comments from community members.
These comments consisted of parents advocating for their children. Some pointed out how their children have not had field trips or guest speakers, while others discussed students who are immunocompromised and would not feel safe if this policy was put into place.
Student Council president and student representative to the Board senior Quinn Hall spoke on behalf of the student body at the board meeting.
Hall explained that through conversations with students in varying grades, the majority opinion was that the mask optional policy should be implemented.
“I have great faith in all of my classmates to be respectful of their fellow classmates on whether or not they decide to wear a mask,” Hall said.
Junior Maya Murray said that this new policy has been a large adjustment considering what students have been used to for the last two years.
Murray explained she thinks masks being optional allows her and other students to feel like things are going back to normal.
“You can tell a lot more about a person when you can see their entire face,” she said.