MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. called it “a tough decision,” but the goal is to keep schools fully open and to protect students and staff.
A few minutes earlier, the board agreed, voting unanimously that students, staff and visitors must wear masks while in district buildings.
Styles said the district periodically will review its mask policy but will follow the guidelines from the local and state health departments.
Middletown, which started the new school year on Aug. 11, is the second school district in Butler County to have a mask mandate, joining Lakota.
The board meeting Monday night was moved from the district’s headquarters in the City Building to a larger space at Middletown High School in anticipation of the crowd. About 50 people, mostly parents of students in the district attended, and only a few wore masks.
Meanwhile, four of the five board members (board member Michelle Novak was absent), Treasurer Randy Bertram, Styles, and the two guest presenters, Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips and Dr. Roberto Colon, vice president of quality and safety at Premier Health System, wore masks throughout the 2-1/2-hour meeting.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Mike Conner said he wasn’t against anyone wearing a mask, but he feels it’s not the district’s right to tell parents how to raise their children.
“I’m for choice,” he said. “It has to fall to parents. Where does it stop? We can’t allow this to happen.”
Phillips said the number of positive COVID cases has steadily increased in Middletown since early July, going from one case to 323 by Monday.
“COVID is real,” she said.
Colon said in the last six weeks, Miami Valley Hospital has gone from designating one wing on one floor for COVID patients to three floors.
“The delta variant is no joke,” he said adding masks “do work and are safe.”
This story was originally published by WCPO 9 news partner, the Journal-News.