Ohio lawmakers want state to ban local school mask mandates

An Ohio lawmaker wants to remove the mask-wearing decision for K-12 students across the state from local school boards by having the state prohibit any district from requiring masks. Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, said he plans to introduce legislation to stop school
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The Ohio State House, 2018
The Ohio State House, 2018
(SOPA Images/Getty)

An Ohio lawmaker wants to remove the mask-wearing decision for K-12 students across the state from local school boards by having the state prohibit any district from requiring masks.

Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, said he plans to introduce legislation to stop school districts across the state from mandating students wear masks, saying parents in his district are upset school boards have required masks as the school year begins.

Lakeview and Warren school boards, each in Loychik’s district, voted to require masks for students.

The bill would not prohibit faculty, staff and guests from wearing masks or from schools requiring masks for them.

“With our children returning to the classroom shortly, based off the outcry I’ve heard from constituents I believe this is a decision that should remain optional and up to the discretion of parents on whether their child needs to wear a mask – not a mandate from schools receiving public taxpayer funds,” Loychik said.

Several school systems across the state – including the largest ones in Columbus and Cleveland – have made decisions to require masks. Others have left decisions up to parents and students, while still others have yet to decide how to proceed.

Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, drafted an amendment to House Bill 350, legislation he introduced earlier this year, that prohibits mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine proof. The amendment would end all mask mandates in public schools.

That bill is in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati and Ohio University have imposed mask mandates for indoor spaces, including for those vaccinated. Youngstown State University, however, recently announced it would not require masks.

“I strongly commend YSU’s decision to not require masks for students as we head into the fall 2021 semester. As a former YSU student, I’m proud to be a Penguin as they are opening back up their institution correctly in getting back to normal,” Cutrona said. “This is a prime example of how the rest of our state institutions should be operating. As the legislator of the Mahoning Valley, be assured we have several bills at the Statehouse moving forward to lift school mask mandates.”

The Ohio Department of Heath reported nearly 3,400 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday over a 24-hour period, and a 21-day rolling average of 1,546. Nearly all of those cases, according to ODOH, are the delta variant.