Butler County health departments: We recommend mask-wearing in all schools

Students wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they listen during class, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, during the first day of school at Washington Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Students wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they listen during class, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, during the first day of school at Washington Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

The three health departments that operate in Butler County combined on a unique joint statement this week.

Their message: We think students, teachers and staff should be wearing masks inside schools, following national recommendations for prevention of COVID-19 spread.

The Butler County General Health District, the City of Hamilton Health Department and City of Middletown Health Department combined on a news release this week noting that their recommendation follows those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Physicians. Those organizations agree that students should be in school in person but that everyone in schools should be masked, regardless of vaccination status.

“The Delta variant is here and it spreads more easily and makes people sicker than the other forms of COVID-19 we have seen before,” the health departments said in their statement. “Because the Delta variant spreads so quickly, schools need to implement all the tools they have to protect students, teachers and staff (and their families) in order to stay in-person.”

Ohio reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in the last three weeks on Tuesday, with 2,326 cases recorded in the previous day, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

As of Tuesday, the state has reported 1,145,925 cases during the pandemic. Its averaging 1,305 cases a day in the last three weeks and about 1,875 cases a day in the last week.

As of Sunday, Ohio was averaging a COVID positivity rate of 7.5% over the previous seven days, according to ODH. The last time the seven-day positivity rate average at at 7.5% was at the end of January.

School districts throughout the country are dealing with decisions about mask-wearing or compliance to local or state recommendations or rules. The issue has also been among the most passionate for parents with strong feelings on both sides about whether the students should be wearing masks, especially those younger than 12 who are not eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Local public health agencies strongly recommend that until this new Delta variant is suppressed and under control, and everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, that all staff and all students wear a mask when they are inside a building and while on buses,” the Butler County health departments said in their joint statement. “This is not an order but a data-derived, science-based strong recommendation.

“The final decision on masks rests with the school board of each district, of course.”