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Hubbard board extends school mask mandate

HUBBARD — After having put in place a mask mandate last month for students and staff, the Hubbard Board of Education on Tuesday voted 3-1 to extend that rule until further notice.

Board members Rocky Adams, William Cummings and Don Newell voted for the extension while Amanda O’Neill wanted to have masks optional — parents’ choice. Board member Tony Patone was absent.

Adams said the board will wait to hear from the local and state health departments if any changes can be made.

John Martin and other parents among the more than 30 people who attended were not pleased by the decision, noting it has been hard for the past four weeks for younger students to wear masks all day.

“When this four-week mask mandate was put in place, nowhere did anyone say that we will keep it in place unless someone in the community comes up with a plan or options for the (Ohio Department of Health). You are not giving us an option,” he said.

The board had said the mandate would be reviewed again this month either to be lifted or kept in place.

Adams said since students and staff have been wearing masks the number of cases has been going down and students have been able to stay in school five days a week.

“The key to all of this is to keep the students in school and not have to go to remote. The masks are doing what they were intended to do. The mask mandate was a strong recommendation from the ODH. We are following their guidelines,” Adams said.

He said officials will watch to see if numbers continue to decrease — or not. “We are concerned that if we take the masks off and the numbers escalate we will be going back to remote learning.”

Martin asked if numbers are going down, then why can’t the mandate be lifted? He said other school districts are not requiring masks.

School officials said while there are few smaller districts in Trumbull County not mandating masks such as Bloomfield-Mespo, Southington, LaBrae, Mathews and Maplewood, the larger ones are.

Adams said smaller districts with fewer students are able to space students apart more easily.

Officials said 65 percent of the school districts in the state have mask mandates while 35 do not.

Martin said he and other parents are concerned about negative impact of wearing masks on younger children, such as not being able to hear their teacher or others, not seeing the teacher’s mouth move when speaking, and headaches.

“We are going to leave it like it is unless we get word otherwise from ODH which may be coming very soon. … Let us wait and see what the ODH says in November or if they come out with new guidelines,” Adams said

O’Neill said she voted against because she wanted the mask mandate suspended to let parents make the personal choice for their children,

“I want to let parents have the option,” she said.

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