To mask or not to mask: Cincinnati Public Schools continues to follow CDC guidelines


Trent Willhite

The return to in-person learning welcomed over 2,800 students and over 100 faculty members back onto our campus. The halls became crowded again, and courses returned to normal, the only difference being mask wearing.

As the 2021-22 school year began, many Cincinnati school districts declared the mask mandate as optional, a decision made possible by Senate Bill 22 (SB 22). 


Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), however, continues to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested guidelines, as they resume five-days-a-week, in-person learning.


According to the CPS District Safety Plan, last updated Aug. 27, the following health and safety protocols will be implemented within every CPS school. These protocols are based on recommendations from the CDC in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • Sick staff and students are encouraged to stay at home without fear of reprisal.
  • Masks are required for all staff, students and visitors at all times in the building and on the bus, unless outdoors if social distancing can be maintained.
  •  Frequent cleanings and disinfecting of high touch areas.
  • Lockers are assigned to individual students, with the exception of siblings.


When the “new coronavirus,” also known as the Delta variant, materialized in Ohio, state law granted the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the governor “ultimate authority in matters of quarantine and isolation.”


This approach was most recently changed via SB 22, which prevents the health department from issuing mandatory stay-at-home orders. It also allows the General Assembly to vote down health orders without the governor’s approval. 


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed the bill, issuing a message stating, “Senate Bill 22 jeopardizes the safety of every Ohioan. It goes well beyond the issues that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The Ohio Legislature voted to override the governor, and the bill passed, notwithstanding DeWine’s objections.


“SB 22 strikes at the heart of local health departments’ ability to move quickly to protect the public from the most serious emergencies Ohio could face,” DeWine said.


In light of SB 22, COVID-19 protocols within schools are to be determined by school district. DeWine, however, urges Ohio schools to continue to implement mask requirements, and keep in line with quarantine guidelines.