The Westerville City Schools, Ohio will make it optional the wearing of masks by staff and students at all times from the long President’s Day weekend on Tuesday, February 22, 2022.
“Given improved health data within our school district and the counties we serve, along with prior student exclusion guidance from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Franklin County Public Health (FCPH), we are announcing important changes to our COVID mitigation procedures for all facilities and grades PreK-12,” said Superintendent Dr. John R. Kellogg.
“When students and staff return to school from the long President’s Day weekend on Tuesday, February 22, Westerville City Schools will transition from requiring staff and students to wear masks at all times to making masks optional.
“Regardless of the mask policy while at school, per CDC orders, passengers and drivers must wear a mask while on school transportation, including buses and other vehicles operated by public and private school systems. It is expected that those orders will end in mid-March.”
However, Dr John Kellog advised that “Given this transition, there are certain conditions under which we strongly advise individuals to continue wearing a mask regardless of their vaccination status. For example, wearing a mask while attending plays, concerts, athletic contests, and other indoor events with an audience or group of spectators.”
“During one-to-one meetings or small group gatherings, even if able to maintain appropriate physical distancing, consider asking the preference of others before going maskless. If you would like to view last night’s presentation to the Board of Education regarding this transition, it is available on our YouTube channel.”
In addition to changing our mask mandate upon return from the long President’s Day weekend, the following two procedural adjustments take effect immediately:
- Indoor spectator/audience capacity restrictions will be removed for athletic contests, performing arts events, and other extracurricular activities.
“Additionally, we will be allowing volunteers back into our schools.
Any student identified as a close contact to a positive case within their household may continue to attend school as long as the student does not develop any symptoms or test positive.
These close contact students previously were required to remain at home for a minimum of five days. COVID testing is not required unless the student develops symptoms. Any identified household close contact(s) should also wear a mask while at school for 10 days after the last date of contact with the positive case.
Any student who develops COVID-like symptoms must remain at home. Per current exclusion requirements from ODH and FCPH, a student with symptoms will be required to stay at home regardless of their vaccination status, history of previous infections, and/or whether or not they were identified as a close contact. Students at school who display COVID-like symptoms will be sent home. A student with COVID-like symptoms may return to school after:
- Providing documentation of a negative COVID test (proctored if a home test), or
- Obtaining a note from a medical provider indicating an alternate diagnosis, or
- Remaining home 5 days from symptom start date.
Please continue to notify the COVID nurse line (614-797-5711 or email@example.com) with any positive student cases and to discuss a return to school date. COVID-positive students will be required to stay home at least 5 days from the symptom start date (positive test date if no symptoms). Afterwards, per ODH and FCPH, the student may return on or after day 6 only if the following conditions are met:
Their symptoms are improving,
They have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication, and
They wear a mask at all times through day 10 (day 6-10) while at school.
That last point is very important. Despite our transition to the wearing of masks being optional, any student who returns to school after testing positive MUST wear a mask at all times through day 10 while at school, except for those times where its removal is permitted, such as while eating lunch and during mask breaks. Identified household close contact(s) should also wear a mask while at school 10 days after the last date of contact with the positive case. Please know that our nurses will continue to help families navigate a student’s return to school in the event they test positive for COVID.
We will continue to monitor local and regional health data to determine any potential impact that improving or worsening conditions may have on our COVID mitigation strategies. Nurses will continue current COVID notification practices and positive case rate data will remain available on our website. Any future changes to our COVID mitigation strategies or practices will be communicated as they become known.”