Twinsburg area officials react to relaxed mandates

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Twinsburg Government Center

While Gov. Mike DeWine has announced the state will drop most of the mandates put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some entities may elect to keep some protections in place.

DeWine announced May 12 that he has asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most pandemic health orders on June 2.

“It is time to end the health orders," DeWine said. "It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus, and now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”

Measures being removed will include facial covering protocols, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events.

The governor said that there would be exceptions to the lifting of masking and social distancing mandates in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings such as jails.

In addition, the Center for Disease Control announced May 13 that those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can participate in activities without masks and social distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask, socially distance, avoid large gatherings, and whenever possible, be outside for activities and gatherings. 

Ryan Kennedy, the marketing coordinator for the city of Twinsburg's parks and recreation department, said the department is "gradually working through changes, and many facilities' policies will stay in place for the time being."

However, in June the Twinsburg Fitness Center will stop its closure from 1 to 2 p.m. for deep cleaning; staff will still do a deep cleaning before opening and after closing. Locker rooms will be cleaned on a set schedule each day, with information being posted for members.

This summer, the outdoor pool will not have time reservations, Kennedy said. The outdoor pool will be open to season pass members and their guests only. Masks will not be required at this facility.

In addition, Kennedy said the Twinsburg Senior Center "will begin a gradual reopening" starting June 1. The center will continue "planning activities, events and trips based on the latest health guidance," and "capacity will be determined as necessary for the location and setting."

Rob Kagler, Twinsburg Township manager, said township meetings have been in-person since May 2020, although the public has not been present. Public comments have been accepted through mail, fax and email, with a drop box outside of the township hall for residents to leave comments.

"Applicants have been able be present at meetings via audio teleconference, and some public comment via audio teleconference has occurred as well," Kagler said. "All township meetings, in addition to being audio and video recorded, broadcast on local access cable, and archived on the township website for remote, on-demand viewing, are also livestreamed on the township website.  The township began livestreaming in early 2020, actually before COVID-19 arrived and related restrictions began."

The township hall has been closed to the public since March 2020, Kagler said. 

"In light of recent changes to CDC guidance and state order, the township will review what has been ordered and rescinded, determine next steps, and put in place a reopening plan for township hall, including meetings and daily access for business purposes," Kagler said. "I would expect some sort of decision in early to mid-June, with implementation by mid to late June."

Currently, the township hall's entrance and reception area are under construction, Kagler said. Work on these areas started Monday. Renovations have "been long delayed due to COVID-19 related construction material availability issues."  

"Reopening of township hall will likely coincide with completion of construction in the township hall entrance and reception area," Kagler said.

Kathryn Powers, Twinsburg City Schools superintendent, said the district's policies on social distancing and masking will remain in place for the remainder of the school year.

"The Centers for Disease Control recently revised their recommendations around mask guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated," Powers said. "While Ohio will be amending its health orders to comply with this new CDC guidance, in order to maintain consistency and model safe behavior for Ohio’s students, these changes do not affect the existing order requiring the use of facial coverings and other health protocols in our schools. With limited numbers of students vaccinated, it is important that we continue these safety measures through the end of the current school year.”

The last day for students is May 27. 

Reminderville Mayor Sam Alonso said that Village Council "just started back with in-person council meetings after doing Zoom since last spring." Architecture Board of Review and Charter Review Commission are still meeting virtually. The village's governing boards "will not be livestreaming."

"Reminderville will be following the guidelines that are starting June 2, including the mask requirement change," Alonso said.

Laura Leonard, the director of the Twinsburg Public Library, said the library will continue to follow the state guidelines.

"Those that are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks in the building," Leonard said. "Programs will continue to be held outside as much as possible throughout the summer. Meeting rooms will not be available to the public until September. We will keep the acrylic dividers up as an extra layer of protection for everyone."

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com