Hudson students will finish school year wearing masks

Several parents request lifting of requirement; superintendent says he will keep measure in place

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Hudson City School District Superintendent Phil Herman speaks during a recent board of education meeting. Herman told families on Thursday, May 27, that the district is investigating a report that some high school students made "racial and homophobic hate statements" in a phone app video game.

HUDSON — Despite requests from several parents at the board of education meeting, the school district's leader said students will finish the school year wearing masks.

Students in grades K-11 in the Hudson City School District are scheduled to attend classes until June 9. The seniors' last day is May 28.

Gov. Mike DeWine on May 12 announced he would lift the mask mandate and all state COVID-19 health orders on June 2.

The district, however, sent out a notice to families May 18 stating that masking, distancing and other COVID-19 requirements will remain in place for students and staff through June 10.

In that message, district leaders said while DeWine had announced that fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks, he also sent a letter to school administrators on May 14 stating: "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."

At Monday's board of education meeting, several parents who asked for the lifting of the mask mandate were applauded by many audience members.

Lisa Ozello said the students had been through a challenging year.

"Please, get rid of the masks," Ozello said. "Give them a chance to be who they want to be. It's time…wearing this mask all day long is like wearing a blanket on our faces. It's hot. Give these kids a chance."

B.J. Robb told the board that DeWine tweeted on Monday that starting June 2, "school districts will have discretion about whether to continue masking and social distancing."

Robb asked the board and the administration to "show their work" regarding why they felt it made sense to continue requiring students to wear masks.

About 45 people attended Monday's meeting in the high school media center and approximately 10 were not wearing masks, even though the board agenda states all meeting attendees are required to wear face coverings.

District Superintendent Phil Herman reiterated the message that had been sent out to district families on May 18. He also noted the CDC May 15 recommended that "schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-21 school year."

Based on guidance from the governor and the CDC, Herman said he recommended the district "maintain the same measures" for the rest of the school year. The board did not vote on changing the masking policy or any other COVID-19 protocols.

Herman said the policies will be re-evaluated during the summer break and noted he expects to soon receive guidance from the Ohio Department of Health on protocols for summer school and programs.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.