Masking under study in Salem schools | News, Sports, Jobs


SALEM – Masking remains a choice in schools in the city of Salem, but Superintendent Sean Kirkland said on Wednesday that it was a constantly reviewed policy, noting that “Compulsory masking is a possibility”.

“If we believe it is necessary based on the numbers, we will implement a hiding mandate for all”, he said.

Kirkland was contacted for comment after the number of positive cases and students quarantined in schools in the city of Salem since the start of school was reported during the District Governing Board meeting. health of the city of Salem Wednesday afternoon.

He said the numbers are clearly on the rise.

The argument to mask or not to mask was raised at the last school board meeting, with two parents of immunocompromised children stressing the need for all students and staff to wear masks. A third parent spoke up for the other side, saying it should be a choice left to the parents.

The choice is current policy and Kirkland said at the start of the school year that there was not a lot of mask wearing, although he said he was going to urge everyone to wear masks. As the number of cases increased, he noticed more masks were worn, with most athletes wearing them and many staff.

“I would love to see everyone wearing them. We have to keep the children in school. Kirkland said.

At the previous school board meeting, he said they were following the Ohio Department of Health guidelines for schools to follow, noting that if a person is masked and is in close proximity to a person who tests positive, she can stay in school and in extracurricular activities, such as sports. If they are not wearing a mask, they must self-quarantine.

A copy of the updated guidelines is available on the school’s website at, along with the number of active cases and quarantines for students and staff.

“We are continually reviewing the numbers and trends, working with the Salem health department and updating the school board,” he said.

He stressed that if the district enacts a mandatory masking policy, it will be reviewed every two weeks and revisited with the idea of ​​bringing it back to elective if the numbers improve. He wants children to have as normal a school experience as possible.

From everything medical professionals have told him, the governor, the CDC, the masks are working. Part of the problem, however, is that masks aren’t required elsewhere. A child can wear a mask to school all day and then go to a concert, fair, sporting event, or other crowded place where no mask is required.

At the board of health meeting, city health commissioner Alanna Stainbrook shared the school district’s COVID numbers since back to school last Friday: 13 positive cases and 39 contacts quarantined from high school; six positive cases and 33 quarantined from college; 10 positive cases and 42 quarantined in the South East; four positive cases and 13 quarantined in Reilly; and one positive case and 18 quarantined in Buckeye.

She also noted that eight players from the soccer team were placed in quarantine protocol after being exposed over lunch to a student who tested positive.

Kirkland has confirmed that these numbers are constantly changing. According to the school’s website, the active numbers Wednesday for students were as follows: two positive contacts and 12 contacts quarantined from high school; five positive and 15 quarantined from college; two positive and 14 quarantined from the southeast; three positive and seven quarantined from Reilly; and two positives and 11 quarantined from Buckeye. Of all school staff in all school buildings, there was only one positive case (from Buckeye) and one in contact quarantine (from the South East).

Stainbrook said the health district was once again doing contact tracing for schools and a letter had been prepared to give to students regarding guidelines for quarantining contacts. She also said the school has ODH guidelines which, in simple terms, say that if a student is not wearing a mask and is exposed to a COVID positive person, they will be quarantined. If they are wearing a mask and have no symptoms, they do not have to self-quarantine.

She said she had heard of a child in hospital and how on social media it was said that the school was not taking care of the children. She said she wasn’t sure how much to believe from the social media posts, but she believes the school district is following the recommended school guidelines.

“I believe that our schools are doing their best to take care of the children” said Stainbrook.

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