RIVERSIDE, Ohio (WDTN) — Mad River Local Schools has changed its mask policy to require face covering for all students.

“We have been in session for 8 days and have had to quarantine over 200 students. That’s 200 students who are going to miss 10 days of school,” said Jenny Alexander, the public relations manager for Mad River Schools.

On Monday, all Mad River students began following an updated policy on face coverings while indoors. At the start of the school year, masks were only required for PreK-sixth-grade students. Now, they’re required for all students, staff, and visitors.

School officials said the only way to ensure kids stay in the classroom five days a week is to require masks for all students. In an email to parents, school officials said:

“Masking students allows us not to have to quarantine students who are in close contact with a COVID-positive person.  If they were not masked, they would have to be quarantined for ten (10) days unless vaccinated, and our student vaccination rate is so low, the impact has been unsustainable.”

“I feel like it’s unfair for kids to have to wear a mask when we got President Joe Biden on the golf course with no mask on, and we have the Met Gala and none of the celebrities are out there wearing a mask but our children have to wear a mask,” said Katie Barnes, a Riverside parent.

Another parent, Laura Sanders said, “I’m pretty neutral with it. It doesn’t make a difference to me. My son is five and he does pretty well with it. He has no issues, but I notice a lot of kids do, especially the ones with asthma.”

The district said the staff was spending their entire days contact tracing and making phone calls rather than educating students.

“While we’re scrambling to find out who’s sick and who has been around someone it’s just taking that part of our jobs out of the mix and it’s just too much. The more kids that continue to get sick the more risk we have of having to shut down the school and that’s not what parents want,” Alexander said. c

As the delta variant spreads, doctors say sending your child to school without a mask means putting them at serious risk.

One of the most prevalent myths about masks is that they limit exposure to germs and therefore weakens the immune system. Doctor Jeffrey Weinstein said there’s no evidence to prove that masks are harmful.

“At a very young age, we get exposed to a lot of viruses and bacteria in our environment. And we are generally talking about masks for 2-years-old and older so not infants or anyone under 2,” he said.

Another common misconception is that covid-19 particles can easily get into fabric masks, and if a kid isn’t wearing a N9 or N95 it’s not worth it.

“A regular cloth mask is quite effective in preventing viruses from getting out into the environment around you,” Dr. Weinstein said.