SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – The Salem City School District has met to decide what to do about masking students. We spoke with several mothers who are in favor of mask mandates in the district last week, and tonight, we heard from the district.
There are 17 positive COVID-19 cases in the district and more than 90 children are quarantined, according to school officials.
The Salem City School Board has given Superintendent Sean Kirkland the greenlight for a mask mandate but as of now, no mandate is in place.
Parents on both sides of the issue spoke at a meeting Monday night, sharing how they think the school should protect their children.
“We’re following some of the guidance. It also says they highly recommend masks in school,” one parent said.
“There is no substantial evidence supporting the use of masks to prevent the spread of viruses,” another parent said.
Kirkland says he hasn’t seen the kind of transmission rates in school buildings to make kids mask up.
“CDC doesn’t want to make the decision, governor doesn’t want to make the decision, he wants to hide behind [it]. I can’t. Nobody wants to make the decision but they want public schools to,” Kirkland said.
About 60 percent of Ohio schools have a mask mandate in place, so Kirkland says one could be coming to Salem’s schools.
“When this decision comes out, please don’t go to my principals and be upset with them. They didn’t make it, I did,” Kirkland said.
The schools say they haven’t changed cleaning protocols but they have changed out every tap and toilet in the schools to be touch-free and limit the spread of germs.
“At this time, I have not seen anything that convinces me that there’s any spread within our district,” Kirkland said.
He said as long as the community continues to go maskless at football games and the like, putting in a mandate is futile. Still, many parents want to see masks on all children at school while others worry about the psychological effect it could have on their children.
“You absolutely cannot be trusted to have the best interest of my child and the other students at heart if you aren’t willing to do the bare minimum in the middle of a global pandemic,” one parent said.
“We know that you’re doing everything you can to keep our kids safe,” another parent said.