Bexley schools to issue masks to students for return to in-person classes

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
Bexley School

In preparation for the return to full in-person classes – also referred to as “all-in” – on March 23, Bexley City Schools administrators and board of education members discussed safety protocols at the board’s March 2 meeting.  

A major part of the all-in plan is requiring all students and staff to wear a disposable mask under a cloth mask or a mask recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that provides similar protection, interim Superintendent Dan Good said. 

“In recent communications, we shared some examples of alternatives to the double masks,” Good said. “We quickly learned that while parents are very appreciative of these options. Many prefer that the district go ahead and identify an acceptable two-ply mask made from non-woven, high-efficiency filter material. And we did that; we identified just such a mask from a local vendor.” 

A message to parents posted to the district’s website, bexleyschools.org, states that the district will use federal CARES Act funds to purchase masks and distribute them free of charge to students on the first day of all-in classes. 

Board member Alissha Mitchell expressed concern with how the mask mandate will be enforced. She said pulling students who aren’t wearing proper masks out of class in order to give them a district-issued mask could cause confusion. 

“It causes a disruption in that particular student’s day,” Mitchell said. “I’m concerned that it places administration and staff in a really, really pickle of a spot.”  

Good said the district will continue to inform parents about the guidelines for masks and other safety protocols. 

“As long as we get those (guidelines) out there and people know that what they purchased complies,” he said.  

District administrators have been preparing buildings to ensure students will be able to maintain a minimum of three feet from other students at all times, and six feet whenever possible, said Harley Williams, district’s director of operations.

Building staff members have identified gymnasiums and outdoor spaces to accommodate lunch periods, with some students remaining in classrooms or going home for lunch.  

“The good news about all-in for us is that we typically have smaller class sizes just by our culture, the nature of our district,” Williams said. “We live in a three-foot distance (environment) when we’re all-in every year.” 

Since the board voted 5-0 at a Feb. 19 special meeting to approve a resolution to return to all-in classes after spring break, building staffs have measured classrooms to ensure proper distancing, Williams said.  

“We went to the smallest classrooms and looked at class size in every classroom,” he said. “We were fine. We found that we could push our desks forward about three inches from where they are from one another; that meets the three-foot distancing. And the gap between the aisles is about 40 or 44 inches normally.”  

Board President Marlee Snowdon said the district tentatively is planning to hold an in-person high school graduation ceremony this year.  

“We are planning to have a spaced-out graduation on the Sunday (of) Memorial Day weekend in our stadium,” Snowdon said.  

For more information and a complete list of safety protocols for all-in classes, visit bexleyschools.org.

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