CANTON, Ohio — Canton City Schools Superintendent Jeffrey S. Talbert announced Thursday that the district will require masks for students, staff and visitors to its buildings for the upcoming school year based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Talbert said the district has been working with public health experts to determine its plan for the 2021-2022 school year.
"As we have stated in the past, this plan continues to evolve as we strive to provide a safe and secure learning environment. We are implementing a universal indoor masking policy for all staff, students and visitors beginning Aug. 2, 2021," Talbert said.
According to Talbert, the district made the decision based on the following:
- The Centers for Disease Controls has recently changed its masking recommendations based on new information on the Delta COVID variant. CDC is now recommending that masks be used in indoor settings in areas of substantial to high transmission rates of new COVID cases. As of today, Stark County is classified as moderate transmission and health officials anticipate this changing to substantial in the next few weeks.
- The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
- The Canton Public Health Department recommends indoor masking for all students, staff, and teachers.
- The City of Canton has a 36% vaccination rate for people aged 20 to 65 and a 16% vaccination rate for those aged 12-19. These low rates present a substantial risk for infection of COVID illness.
- We will review this policy on a monthly basis throughout the school year.
"All staff and students are required to wear face coverings while indoors and on school provided transportation. The district will provide two cloth masks per student and disposable masks will be available in the event a child forgets their covering at home," Talbert said.
Exceptions to the rule will be made for individuals where wearing a mask "would significantly interfere with the learning process or is otherwise not advisable for medical reasons." However, in those specific circumstances, the individual will be required to wear a face shield, Talbert said. Medical documentation will also be required in those instances.
In addition to face masks/shields, the district will also enforce a 3-foot social distancing rule.
"We plan to utilize all our space among all persons on school grounds and those utilizing school transportation," Talbert said.
Classes will be in-person for the upcoming school year. Individuals who are unable to attend in-person instruction due to a medical reason or other issue will be able to utilize the district's Bulldog Virtual Academy. Students who attend the remote learning lessons are asked to remain in that role for an entire semester, giving them the "greatest opportunity for academic success."
"I would like to thank you for your continued support as we prepare for the upcoming school year. If we continue to work together as Bulldogs, we will have a memorable and successful school year," Talbert said.
CLICK HERE to read the full back-to-school announcement.
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