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Summit County Public Health Commissioner Warns of COVID-19 Outbreaks if Schools Drop Mask Requirements

A photo of an empty desk and chairs in a classroom
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
As school districts begin to examine COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming school year, Summit County public health commissioner Donna Skoda is worried that dropping mask requirements will lead to new outbreaks.

As schools review their COVID-19 protocols for next year, Summit County’s public health commissioner is voicing concerns about new outbreaks of the virus if districts drop mask requirements.

Donna Skoda says masks continue to be the best way to keep unvaccinated populations safe, particularly children under the age of 12 who can’t yet get the vaccine. She worries about the safety of these students if masks are no longer required in their school.

“A parent is going to have to talk to their child: ‘It’s important that you wear a mask until you get vaccinated.’”

Without teachers and other school officials enforcing mask wearing, Skoda worries there will be classroom outbreaks, something she says didn’t happen a lot last school year thanks to masks and social distancing.

Skoda on what's different for the coming school year
Health Commissioner Donna Skoda

"Last year, we did not see a lot of classroom spread, and it’s because the schools, teachers were enforcing all of the masking. You had to wear a mask. You had to stay away from each other. You had to sit three to six feet apart. It made a huge difference.”

Skoda urges parents of unvaccinated students to talk to them about the importance of wearing a mask in school. She hopes that children who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms but is more concerned with unvaccinated students bringing the virus home to immunocompromised family members.

Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women's studies. Additionally, Abigail is starting her second semester copy editing for The Burr.