Groveport Madison Schools requiring masks

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Groveport Madison Schools officials instituted a mask mandate to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In an announcement posted on the district’s website, officials noted Ohio is reporting COVID-19 incidents at its highest rate since February 2021 and that hospitals are reaching capacity, “and most concerning of all, the percentage of children getting COVID vastly surpasses what we saw over the past year.”

District officials further stated that, “Recognizing the increased risk that the COVID-19 Delta variant represents to children, particularly to those 12 and under who are too young to be vaccinated, Groveport Madison Schools is mandating all students and staff wear masks, if not only to protect themselves but to protect others around them. We hope this mandate is temporary, and we will continue to work with medical experts to determine how long this mandate will be in place.”

The district-wide (PreK-12) mask mandate began Aug. 23.

According to district officials, masks must be worn at all times when indoors and when on a school bus. If an individual cannot wear a mask due to medical issues, a physician’s note explaining why they cannot wear it will exempt them from this mandate. At present, the district is not mandating masks be worn outdoors.

“We know there will be some families and students who disagree with this position,” according to the district’s announcement on its website. “The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and for that, we will not apologize. We value all of our Cruisers, and we have to do what is best to keep them safe while the COVID Delta variant remains prevalent in Ohio.”

For information about the mask mandate, contact the district’s Communications Office at 614-492-2520 or email at gm.communications@gocruisers.org.

Reactions to mask mandate
Two residents spoke on the mask mandate at the Groveport Madison Board of Education’s meeting on Aug. 25.

“I’m concerned,” said resident Dawn Baxter, who opposes the mask mandate. “Masks affect life in a bad way. This is not political with me and I try to stay current with the facts. What medical facts do you have to support this?”

She noted masks are not required to combat the regular flu.

“Listen to us who go by the numbers,” Baxter told the board.

Board President Libby Gray said Superintendent Garilee Ogden meets with the county health department regularly and when any changes to the situation occur the community will be notified.

“We don’t know what works and we don’t have all the answers,” said resident Jocelyn Houck, who supports the mask mandate. “We’re doing the best we can with what we know. Without knowing we must take every precaution we can. If it helps, it’s all we can do. There’s just too many unknowns.”

Changes to board meetings
•The board voted 4-1, with board member Kathleen Walsh opposing, to eliminate the board’s second meeting of the month (which is held on the fourth Wednesday of the month) in September and October.

Gray said this allows administrators to focus on the operations of the district, particularly in dealing with the challenges COVID presents, rather than to have them be preparing for multiple board meetings.

“We can still call a special meeting if we need to,” said Gray, who added most school boards in Ohio meet just once a month.

Board member Chris Snyder asked the board consider making its regular meetings shorter because the meetings regularly last several hours well into the evening.

“We can look at consolidating things,” said Gray.

The board will continue to hold its regular monthly meetings on the second Wednesday each month at 7:30 p.m. at the District Service Center, 440 Marketing Place, Suite B, Groveport. The meetings are broadcast via the district’s YouTube channel. The board’s remaining regular monthly meeting dates for 2021 are: Sept. 8, Oct. 13, Nov. 10, and Dec. 8.

•The board also voted to post videos of its meetings on YouTube that will be available for public viewing for the current academic year August through July. The videos will be archived for two years.

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