Ohio County Board of Education Extends Mask Mandate Another 30 Days
WHEELING — The mask mandate in Ohio County Schools is working, according to officials in the district.
Students and staff in the school district will have to wear masks to combat the spread of COVID-19 at least through Nov. 8, following a move by board of education members Monday night.
Board members voted 4-1 to extend the mask mandate in Ohio County Schools until the board’s first meeting in November, which is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 8. Voting in favor of extending the mandates were members Christine Carder, Grace Norton, Pete Chacalos and Molly Aderholt. Voting against was board president David Croft.
Superintendent Kim Miller provided data to the board showing that the recent 30-day mask mandate implemented on Sept. 13 is working.
On that date, 741 students were quarantined and out of school because of quarantine policy stipulated by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, she said.
The policy requires the quarantining of unmasked students testing positive for COVID, or exposed to another student who tested positive. The result is that a large number of students were quarantined who did not have the COVID virus.
On Monday, that number of students quarantined was 83, according to Miller.
School officials largely attributed the downturn not to an overall decrease in COVID cases, but to masked students not having to be quarantined. Miller initially suggested the board continue the current mask mandate through Jan. 10, or the end of the current semester.
Croft and Aderholt, both attorneys, researched the quarantine policy guidelines and determined they are not binding rules coming from a government agency, Aderholt explained.
She proposed instead reversing in Ohio County Schools the quarantine policies as they pertain to non-mask wearers, and eliminating the mask mandate.
Earlier in the meeting, Wheeling Park High School Principal Meredith Dailer had spoken to the board and asked them to keep the mask mandate in place.
Chacalos said last week he visited WPHS.
“For the first time since before COVID, there was a sense of normalcy…,” he said. “This tells me that what we did (with mask mandate) is working, and no change is needed. The mask mandate should continue until the end of the semester.”
Member Grace Norton asked to amend Miller’s suggestion and extend the existing mask mandate for just 30 days, at which time the board would again review the issue. That motion was approved by the board.
“This was a good discussion,” Croft said. “We’re just coming at the issue differently.”
The board next meets at 6 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the board office, and again at 6 p.m. on Nov. 8.