Cincinnati Public Schools has updated its masking policy, reflecting changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidance for how it reports the severity of COVID-19 cases as well as the prevention tactics members of the public should take.
Effective immediately, masks are no longer required in CPS "school buildings, district offices and on yellow bus and van services," per a resolution passed by the Board of Education on March 8.
In classrooms with children under the age of 5 who are not yet eligible for COVID vaccination, CPS says there will be "air purifiers" and teachers will be issued N-95 masks to wear if they want. This applies to preschool classrooms and "autism and multiple disability units."
A release from CPS notes that: "Students, staff and visitors who want to continue wearing a mask are supported and encouraged to do so."
On Feb. 25, the CDC said that instead of relying just on infection rates to determine if an area has a "low," "medium" or "high" instance of COVID-19 spread, it will now be using three metrics to make its ruling:
- new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days;
- the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients;
- and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.
Under its new guidance, the CDC does not recommend indoor masking for those in areas with low or medium community spread.
The CDC does, however, continue to recommend indoor masking in areas with high spread. The CDC notes that "at all levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk." And that those who have symptoms, exposure of who have tested positive should wear a mask.
Based on the CDC's map of spread, Hamilton County is currently green, which means there is low community spread of COVID.
CPS says that if local cases spike into "high" levels of spread, "CPS will recommend the Board to require mask-wearing."
If a member of staff or a student tests positive for COVID-19, they are allowed to return to school after day five but must wear a mask for 10 days after their positive test.
According to Ohio's COVID-19 dashboard, 65.2% of the county has started the vaccination process. Everyone ages 5 and up is now eligible for a COVID vaccine and those 12 and older are eligible for boosters.
Get the latest info about CPS' COVID policy at cps-k12.org.