Hamilton Schools to require masks on buses

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Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

In response to the current escalation in positive COVID-19 cases, and in consultation with federal, local and state health departments, Hamilton Local School bus riders are now required to wear a face mask while aboard district transportation.

“…per federal mandate, masks are required for all public transportation, including school bus transportation, until at least Sept. 13,” reported Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mark Tyler on July 28. “For our Ranger Bridge and athletic participants, this will require all bus riders to wear a mask on the school bus. Once students are off the bus, they may follow our school guidance as we currently recommend, but do not require students to wear a mask inside buildings.”

Staff and students will not be asked to show proof of vaccination and while masks throughout the district are recommended, currently they are not required. Fans attending Ranger sporting events are also not required to wear a mask.

“Our plan as of now is to be back to normal in all athletic venues in our district,” said Public Relations Director Kaitlin Duncan. “All venues fall under our district plan. Masks are recommended but not required.”

During the Aug. 2 Hamilton Board of Education meeting, board members discussed a proposed resolution outlining steps the district would take in following CDC guidelines regarding mitigation strategies if districtwide community transmission levels exceed 50 new cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day period or COVID test positivity rates exceed seven percent in Franklin County or the state of Ohio.

Both would be rescinded within 14 days when either cases in the district fall below the 50 case threshold and/or county/state cases fall below and maintain a level of less than seven percent.

“The resolution from the board meeting last night was tabled,” said Duncan. “It is an item for consideration, but the district is not doing anything with it at this time.”

To obtain transmission data, Duncan said district leadership looks at data within the zip code, but with a concentrated focus on the perspective of local cases reported from the school.

According to Duncan and the Ranger Restart program regarding safe social distancing, “We will be mindful of each area the students are in throughout the school day to limit the number of close contacts. (However) transportation falls under a mandate from the CDC.”
Hamilton Local Schools is providing COVID-19 test kits to anyone on quarantine or who is symptomatic of the virus, as long as the supply of kits is available. The test is voluntary and can be taken at home.

According to the district, to date, COVID-19 has infected more than 138,000 Franklin County residents, 21,000 of which were primarily school-aged children (under the age of 20) and has taken the life of more than 1,700 people in the community.

Recommendations for the school year can be found in the Ranger Restart guide at www.hamilton-local.k12.oh.us/restart.aspx

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