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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio Public School Board Votes Students And Staff Can Quit Wearing Masks

Karen Kasler

The Board of Education for a southwest Ohio school district has voted to defy the state’s mask mandate. 

The Blanchester Public Schools’ board in rural Clinton County has voted that its students and staff can immediately go without masks when they are outdoors or on buses, as long as the windows are opened a little bit. But on June 1st, they’ll become the first Ohio district to decide that students and staff can quit wearing masks indoors. Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro says this seems illegal. And he says he's puzzled as to why the school board would want to shed masks right now anyway.

“This is a decision that is putting students in particular at unnecessary risk. It is very clear that the mask mandate has been very effective in curbing the spread of COVID," DiMauro says.

Scott DiMauro, president, Ohio Education Association
Credit Jo Ingles
Scott DiMauro, president, Ohio Education Association

It’s unclear what the state can or will do in response to the decision.  

Many teachers were vaccinated against COVID earlier this year. But many students are not. Currently, only Ohioans 16 years and over can get the vaccine. But that could change. Pfizer reports the FDA could authorize students 12 years old and older to get the vaccine in the coming days.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.