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Canfield, Hubbard, Howland schools to require facial coverings

Hubbard, Canfield and Howland school districts joined other districts that require students and staff members to wear masks or some type of face coverings over the next several weeks while they come to grips with higher-than-normal absenteeism and increasing COVID-19 infections.

Hubbard Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Raymond Soloman said the district, starting today, is extending the mask requirements already established in his high school to its middle and elementary school buildings due to increasing illness numbers. The district will continue this policy for at least four weeks, re-evaluating the policy at the end of that time.

Hubbard had the most new cases of COVID with 13 and cumulative confirmed cases of 46, according to the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard for schools. There were no new staff cases and one cumulative.

The high school has required masks or some type of face coverings since the beginning of the school year. Now all students and visitors in all district facilities will be required to have some type of face covering.

Soloman said absenteeism in the district is up slightly from previous years.

Canfield Local Schools plan to mandate masks for all students in grades K-6, as well as for staff and visitors, beginning Wednesday. An official announcement is scheduled for today.

In Howland, 22 staff members and 450 students absent on Friday. Howland Local Schools had been one of a number of Trumbull County districts that allowed parents and children to choose whether they wanted to wear masks at school. The new mask mandate is meant to be temporary, according to the district.

Superintendent Kevin Spicher emphasized the mask mandate is intended to be a temporary measure to mitigate the absences.

“Student and staff absences due to illness and quarantines have increased so significantly that managing and maintaining the in-person delivery model is now in jeopardy if we don’t adjust our course,” Spicher said. “We have already had 2,179 student absences in

the first nine days of school when we have previously averaged 405 to 495.”

The decision to mandate masks was made over the weekend. There are exemptions to the policies that parents can apply for their students.

The district is strongly recommending that all visitors wear masks as well, but will only require masks if they are in the buildings for more than 15 minutes.

Howland was one of a number of Trumbull districts allowing parents and children to choose whether they wanted to wear masks inside their facilities.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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