DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Public Health is recommending face masks in schools due to the spread of the “extremely contagious” omicron variant.

Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County said in a release Monday that it continues to recommend the use of face masks in school and during school activities regardless of vaccination status.

“Now is not the time for us to let our guard down,” said Jennifer Wentzel, Montgomery County Health Commissioner. “The use of face masks is an easy way to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and to increase the safety for everyone while at school.”

According to Public Health, as of December 16, there were 143 active outbreaks in Montgomery County schools.

“Schools should do everything they can to help protect students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Michael Dohn, Medical Director, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “Vaccinations and the proper use of face masks are the two best precautions to avoid infection and reduce your risk of hospitalization or death.”

The department advises the following regarding mask wearing:

  • Indoors: CDC recommends indoor masking for all individuals age 2 years and older, including students, teachers, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status
  • Outdoors: In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised

Additionally, the department is encouraging testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection to keep schools safe.

For more information about COVID-19 or to schedule a vaccination visit www.phdmc.org.