CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks for at least the first five weeks of school this fall, CEO Eric Gordon announced Monday.

The school district also plans to implement three-foot distancing where officials deem practical and touchless thermometer checks. Students will still be able to return full time for classes five days a week if they wish. 

If students want to continue remote learning, CMSD will continue to offer its Virtual Academy. It will also have a virtual school option that will be staffed by CMSD teachers. 

The announcement comes as Senate Bill 209, introduced last week in the Ohio Senate, could bar state schools from implementing mask mandates. The legislation follows the passing and signing of House Bill 244, which come Oct. 12, will ban Ohio public schools from requiring unauthorized vaccines

Gordon said masks will be implemented for the first few weeks unless guidance changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, its guidance recommends masks for unvaccinated individuals. But because of the language in House Bill 244, Ohio school districts can't discriminate based on vaccination status, so Gordon said masks will be in place for everyone. 

The CDC also still recommends three-foot distancing between students in classrooms. 

CMSD will also be holding vaccination clinics throughout the year for students over 11 years old and for their family members. The district said it will be offering COVID-19 testing as well. 

Another Cleveland-area school district, Parma City Schools, announced this week that it won't be requiring masks for any students or educators, regardless of vaccination status. The district will try to implement social distancing when possible. 

In addition to Gordon's announcement about masks, he also said students won't be required to wear uniforms this year. He said more details will be coming soon. 



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