Chagrin Falls schools summer plan eases face mask requirement for some

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio – The Chagrin Falls School Board has approved a COVID-19 summer safety plan that “changes employee and student expectations” for face mask requirements, Superintendent Robert Hunt said.

The plan, approved by the board of directors on Wednesday June 2, is effective from June 2 to August 18. It was designed to provide general guidance to staff and students – for summer school and other licensed programs on the district campus this summer – related to security measures related to COVID-19.

Hunt said the main change is that any district staff or student aged 12 and over who has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is no longer required to wear a face mask on campus. Those 12 and older who are not vaccinated should always wear a mask, unless approved for an exemption.

The face mask requirement will continue indoors for K-6 students attending summer school or other summer programs.

“Our students under 12, who are not accessible to the vaccine at this time, will continue to have spacing and masking inside and will be able to remove their masks outside when playing or have some activity outside of the classroom, ”Hunt said.

The plan calls on students and staff to maintain 3 feet of social distancing indoors during teaching hours.

Most of the students returning for summer school on Tuesday (June 8) are elementary school age, Hunt said.

The plan is also provided to help clarify local district restrictions, given Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent announcement to lift most Ohio public health orders related to the state’s coronavirus pandemic, at Effective Wednesday, June 2.

Hunt said the district had tried to heed the advice provided by DeWine, but added that it was “really a moving target”.

“Gov. DeWine initially said that on June 2 all (public health orders) would be revoked, ”he said.

“In his statement (the morning of June 2), he said,” It is important that we all remember that a significant number of Ohioans are not vaccinated and are at risk, including all people under the age of 12 years. It is important that those who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors and take other preventative measures to stay as healthy as possible.

“Based on that governor’s statement, we figured we would continue to hide in school buildings for our labs and learning environments (this summer),” Hunt continued. “However, when the students go out, they can take off their masks.

“Obviously, students have the option and the right to wear their masks. “

“Conflicting information”

Also on Wednesday, June 2, Hunt said he learned that Lake and Geauga County Health Departments were preparing to no longer require masks for people under the age of 12. These services also indicated that anyone 12 years and older who is fully vaccinated would have the option of not wearing a mask, he said.

“This obviously goes against what the governor’s statement said (June 2) regarding the masking,” he said. “So we have a lot of conflicting information.”

The district attracts students from Cuyahoga and Geauga counties.

Hunt said the district submitted its summer safety plan to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

“They have been pretty silent in terms of public statements about the masking,” he said. “But they backed our plan in terms of justification.”

Hunt said he asked health officials in Lake County and Geauga, “How can you post something that contradicts what the governor said?” “

He said the answer was basically, “There are no orders; these are just our recommendations for your consideration.

“So it’s all up to the locals to make those decisions,” he said.

Sharon Broz, Board Member, said: “The inconsistency is problematic.”

“We could step in and tell you to do something different (June 2), and I suspect you will have some new information by noon (June 3,” she told Hunt. “So I’m d) agree that waiting and seeing how things turn is the right course of action. “

Board member Mary Kay O’Toole said she agreed with Broz.

“It’s a no-win situation, but I think we need to take a conservative approach,” she said. “The students wore masks all year round.

“I think, overwhelmingly, everything went well. We have had 154 students in our neighborhood who have had COVID this year, so for people who still don’t think it exists, it does.

“I hope it goes away, but until we have a little more evidence that it’s done or a little more direction, I think we’re staying the course,” she continued.

The plan could be updated

Hunt said his recommendation was that the board approve this plan and follow it through June, then reassess it in July, “based on directions that obviously change.”

“But if something firm comes out, there’s no reason we can’t come back on June 16 and say, ‘Let’s make a change now,'” he said. “That option is still there.”

The next council meeting is June 16th.

Hunt said he believes the district has had zero cases of COVID-19 for three straight weeks, “so the numbers are going very well in our quarantines, as well as the positive cases.”

“I know the younger students are less vulnerable, if you will, and certainly in terms of the intensity of the symptoms, they fall under the category of less hospitalizations, and certainly the risk of death is very low,” he said. he declares.

“But young people can still get that, and it can affect them. So I think we just have to be careful and wait for the next couple of weeks. “

What about the next school year?

The district plans to provide a more comprehensive guide to staff, students and families for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, based on upcoming directions from health services, Hunt said.

Hunt said current trends would indicate that students in Grades 7 to 12 would definitely have no face mask requirements when they return to school in August, and the same could apply to kindergarten students. in the 6th year.

The district does not require proof of vaccination at this time, and its face mask policy is “dependent on an individual’s good conscience and adherence to this guidance document,” the plan says.

Broz said a number of parents asked him if the district intended to ask to see immunization cards next school year.

“No, I don’t think you wanted to go into the business of trying to get and monitor this data,” Hunt said. “There is a litany of problems that would come with this.”

Two teachers hired

In another move, the board approved the hiring of Molly Klodor as a technology integration coach and John Bakalar as a high school business teacher. Both appointments are effective August 16.

Klodor will replace Nancy Kevern, whose resignation is effective Monday (June 7), and Bakalar replaces Nancy Vondrak, who also resigned at the end of this school year.

Next in-person meeting

The board – which has been meeting via the Zoom video for many months now – has decided that its next meeting at 6 p.m. on June 16 will be held in person, at a location to be determined, as this will be Hunt’s last meeting in as a superintendent.

Hunt leaves the district to become superintendent of the school district of Barrington 220 community unit in Barrington, Ill., A northwest suburb of Chicago. He took up his duties there on July 1.

Jennifer Penczarski, Superintendent of Schools for the Town of Kenton, will succeed Hunt on July 1. The school board approved a three-year contract for Penczarski in April.

Read more of the Grief Solon Sun.


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