Akron Public Schools Mandates Masks For All To Start Fall 2021 Semester

Akron Public Schools building
"We want everybody to be safe and healthy no matter who they are. Our students are our top priority and our staff are right up there with them," said Akron Public Schools Chief of Business Operations Deb Foulk. [Akron Public Schools]
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All Akron Public Schools students and staff, vaccinated or not, will be required to wear masks in school buildings and on buses to start the fall 2021 semester. 

The new guidelines, released Monday, allow for removing masks while outside.

The school district’s mask policy falls in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ call for universal masking for all kids ages 2 and up, according to Deb Foulk, Akron schools’ chief of business operations. 

“We were in consultation with Summit County Health and we decided that because a majority – especially our elementary students under the age of 12 – are not eligible for vaccines, that this was the standard that we had put into place over the summer and it worked well. And we would continue this as we opened up the school year because of the spread of the Delta variant being quite rapid,” Foulk told Ideastream Public Media Tuesday morning.

Akron schools made the announcement the same day Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officials recommended masking in schools and crowded outdoor spaces for all.

Akron schools’ COVID-19 guidelines for the upcoming semester also include “frequent handwashing, mask breaks, use of outdoor space, social distance (generally 3 feet), traffic patterns within buildings, regular sanitation and deep cleaning practice, single-service water service.”

The school system also plans to limit class sizes to no more than 24 students per classroom.  

“We want to reduce that class size, not only for the health and safety of the students and the staff, but also to make sure that we can concentrate on supporting their learning environment as they get used to daily attendance at a school location as opposed to remote,” Foulk said.

All school sports teams are expected to proceeded normally for the 2021-22 school year, Foulk said, though district is waiting for the Ohio High School Athletics Association to make COVID-related recommendations, including for game attendance. For now, Akron’s school-sponsored sports teams do not allow spectators at practice.

Akron Public Schools will revisit COVID-related recommendations on a monthly basis, Foulk said.

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