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EDITORIAL: Mask up in the schools

On Tuesday, on the eve of the new academic year, Ironton City Schools announced that returning students would be required to wear masks as in-person learning resumed.

As of press time, Ironton remains the only school district in the county that has made this move, with all others making masks optional. (An exception is made for school buses, which are tightly confined).

As today’s front page story shows, COVID-19 cases are rising sharply in the state and particularly in Lawrence County, with a two-day total from this week surpassing the entire month of June. Lawrence County had the second highest rate last week and, this week, the third highest.

Nobody enjoys wearing the masks and we’re all tired of them, but they remain necessary in many settings, particularly in schools, where children under 12 can not get the vaccine. And, currently, no option for remote learning exists in the county.

But the threat of COVID-19 remains and, thanks to the Delta variant, the virus is more transmissible than ever.
Gov. Mike DeWine left the decisions on masks to local school districts, though he has recommended their use. This is also the case with the Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Ironton City Schools were wise for their change in policy, which they said is based on CDC maps of the virus in counties.
Sometimes, the right decision may not be the most popular one.

But we urge school boards and superintendents in the county to please consider the numbers in Lawrence County and revisit their decisions, especially now, as cases are severely on the rise.

Any angry feedback they receive could pale in comparison to full blown outbreaks among children and faculty.