During a special meeting Monday night, the Wadsworth School Board voted to make masks mandatory across the district – beginning Sept. 1 – for preschool through 12th grade, including teachers and staff.
Mandatory mask wearing will be in place indoors only for at least three weeks during what Superintendent Dr. Andy Hill calls “peak spread across the district.”
“This doesn’t have to be a forever thing, but right now we have to take a step and help change the course of what’s been happening here,” Dr. Hill explained.
The decision comes after 74 students or employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since school began on August 18th, and another 497 kids (and a few employees) have been quarantined.
“We rely on seating charts, we rely on conversations with the people involved. We have coaches and admins that will sit down and literally watch hours of video to be able to determine that close contact criteria so that we don’t have to shutdown entire programs,” explained Dr. Hill.
Volunteers and visitors will be restricted for the next three weeks. Open houses for CIS and Wadsworth High School have also been pushed back.
“Our job is to educate these kids. We want to keep people safe, obviously. But our focus is how can we keep kids in school, following the pathways set up by ODH that’s safe. I’m not trying to minimize the virus, obviously we don’t want anybody getting sick. But our focus is laser-like on how can we keep these kids here. How we can minimize the number of kids that are out for 10 days in quarantine and then all the challenges that presents.”
The school board will hold another meeting Sept. 20 to look at COVID-19 numbers again and make a decision about masks and protocols.