School district lifts mask mandate

Student+throws+away+his+mask+after+the+district+drops+the+mask+mandate+for+schools.++The+mandate+was+removed+for+students+and+staff+on+February+28.

Chris DeRosa

Student throws away his mask after the district drops the mask mandate for schools. The mandate was removed for students and staff on February 28.

Olivia O'Rourke, Staff Writer

After over a year and a half of requiring masks throughout the district, Delaware City Schools has lifted its mask mandate.
The decision to lift the mandate was originally made at the February 7 school board meeting.
“The wording that was shared from the board was that masks would be recommended, but of course that is up to each individual,” Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley said.
Though the board disagreed on when exactly to lift the mandate, it was eventually decided that the policy change would go into effect on March 14. The decision was made based on guidance from the CDC and state and local health departments.
“The information I shared with [the board] was that the number of cases were continuing to decline both in our schools and in our school community,” Kegley said.
However, the Covid-19 risk status for Delaware County recently changed from high to medium, as infection rates have plummeted since the beginning of January, prompting the decision to lift the mandate earlier.
“In accordance with our commitment to follow the advice of federal, state and local health officials and per the updated CDC mask guidelines for K-12 schools and on school transportation,” Director of Communications Jennifer Ruhe wrote in an email to district staff on February 27. “Masks will no longer be required for Delaware City Schools beginning on Monday, February 28, 2022.”
Masking protocols after infection will continue to stay in place, requiring students to mask up for 5 days following a 5 day quarantine.
“We will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases in our schools and community and adjust our decisions based on the advice of health experts,” Ruhe said in the email.
Following the policy change, many Hayes students have expressed positive opinions on the new protocols.
“I like how they’re making it optional because it’s really a personal preference at this point,” junior Morgan Connar said. “It’s just really kind of up to everyone, because everyone has their own opinions.”
Meanwhile, many other students hold a different viewpoint.
“I think the mask mandate should have stayed in place because we are already more than halfway through the year and it is a good way to keep everyone safe,” freshman Greta Walraven said. “It’s not that big of an issue to wear a mask and wearing them helps keep everyone in school.”
The decision of whether or not to wear a mask is ultimately each student’s choice.
“I like to wear my mask myself, but if other people don’t, I don’t really care,” junior Robyn Gurujal said. “Unless Covid cases spike again and this doesn’t change anything with Covid, then I don’t think it’s that bad of a thing.”
Whether students choose to wear a mask or not, the district has made a point to emphasize that students should feel safe with their choice, whatever it is.
“We want to make sure that those who want to wear masks feel welcome, and those that make the decision to not wear masks also feel welcome within our school,” Kegley said.