DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Some Miami Valley health leaders say they are concerned about the amount of mask exemptions throughout some school districts.
They say there are limited reasons for a student or staff member to obtain a mask exemption, so while some students may be excused from wearing a mask, schools should be taking extra precautions.
“It worries me because if you have a large number of individuals not wearing a mask, it diminishes the potential benefit from what you could be getting,” said MVH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colon.
Some health leaders are voicing concern saying they’re seeing large numbers of students and staff obtaining mask exemptions inside school buildings.
Springboro Community Schools say they’ve approved 262 mask exemptions and over 98-percent of them are for students Pre-K through 6th grade. They say exemptions are granted for three reasons.
“One of those is a disability for the student that prohibits them from wearing a mask, then a medical condition or reasoning and the third is a religious exemption and for all three of those we ask for them to explain or provide documentation for that,” said PIO Springboro Community City Schools Scott Marshall.
Right now, masks are only mandated for Pre-K through 6th grade at Springboro Schools. Officials say that decision is based on health restrictions and quarantine guidelines.
“If you are within three-feet of someone who is positive for 15 minutes or more and you’re unmasked and not vaccinated, then you have to be quarantined,” said Marshall.
Children ages 5-to-11 years old are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, so health leaders encourage school districts to exercise caution to ensure all can safely stay inside the classroom.
“Keep a very good eye on who’s not wearing a mask and track those interactions that aren’t very protected so if someone does come into contact and those barrier methods were not there, they may need additional monitoring and testing,” said Dr. Colon.
At this time, the coronavirus dashboard shows 55-percent of eligible Ohioans have started the vaccination process.