Talawanda lifts mask requirement starting Monday


Observer file photo

The mask mandate requiring all students, teachers, staff and visitors in Talawanda schools to be masked is to be lifted Jan. 10, the district says. For much of 2021, students such as Michelle Miao, a senior at Talawanda High School, had to wear masks in class.

By Claire Sager

Talawanda School District plans to lift its mask mandate Monday, Jan. 10, but continues to advise all students, staff and faculty to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks inside the school buildings.

In a letter to all school families posted this week on the district’s blog, Superintendent Edward Theroux emphasized the school district’s commitment to maintaining in-person learning and keeping the local community safe from the spread of the virus.

In keeping with recommendations from the Butler County Health Department (BCHD), Theroux wrote that the district advises that all individuals wear masks and become fully vaccinated, including boosters to those who are eligible. However, the mask mandate has been unpopular with many in the district. Those who are against it have complained at school board meetings about whether students should wear masks at school and if it should be a parental decision.

The board indicated last year that the issue would be reconsidered in 2022.

To increase vaccination rates, the district is partnering with the BCHD to offer a vaccination clinic at Talawanda High School from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8. All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, will be offered as a first dose, second dose or booster to local residents ages 5 and up. Children 16 and up are eligible for a booster shot, according to the district.

More information on setting up an appointment can be found on the Talawanda district blog

Theroux also said in his posting that Talawanda is updating its quarantine and isolation guidelines, as orders from the Butler County Health Department have changed.

According to an Ohio Department of Health chart on the district blog, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms, an individual with COVID-19 should stay home and avoid others for five days following exposure. Students, teachers and staff may end isolation after five days if they are fever-free without using fever-reducing medicine and their symptoms have improved.

The flowchart also advises vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 to wear a mask around others for 10 days following their last exposure, test on day five and isolate if they experience any symptoms or test positive.

Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 are advised to quarantine for five days immediately following their last exposure, test on day five, then wear a mask around others for the next five days given that they are not sick. If they develop symptoms or test positive, they should stay home.

Talawanda also offers a continuously updating COVID-19 dashboard as a resource on its website.

According to the dashboard, which updates as cases are reported, Talawanda Middle School staff have three reported cases of COVID-19. The district reported two cases of COVID-19 with 10 more in quarantine among students.

Talawanda High School staff has three reported cases of COVID-19 with one person in quarantine, and among students, it has 12 reported cases of COVID-19 with six additional in quarantine.

For additional information related to national and local COVID-19 procedures, readers should visit the COVID-19 tab on www.talawanda.org. Superintendent Theroux states that the district will update their protocol and plan as changes and decisions are made.