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If Schools Reopen This Fall, Columbus Students May Be Wearing Masks

Ohio schools, which were initially closed until May 1, will remain shuttered through the end of the school year.
Ryan Hitchcock
Ohio schools, which were initially closed until May 1, will remain shuttered through the end of the school year.

As Columbus City Schools prepares to close out this school year, district officials are examining the cost of re-opening schools in the fall. 

Columbus Schools superintendent Talisa Dixon says a task force made up of about 100 district stakeholders - including principals, union leaders and community partners - is assessing what changes will occur when school doors open.

“Those PPE products that we know that we will need,” Dixon says. “Thinking about how much it will cost us, and quite frankly can we get it all in before school year starts.”

Dixon says the district knows it will need to spend more money on sanitizing the 109 school buildings. Both students and staff will likely wear masks.

“We’re estimating that we would possibly need two masks for students per day,” Dixon says. “And that’s 100,000 masks. So we need to look at how much that will cost our district.”

Ohio's schools were closed in mid-March, and classes have moved online for the remainder of the academic year. Columbus City Schools will hold virtual graduation ceremonies for seniors next month.

Dixon says she is pleased that 70% of students are accessing the academic curriculum online. The district distributed more than 19,000 Chromebooks to help students with remote learning.

Although students will be assessed throughout summer school to monitor their progress, a recently released independent audit of the Columbus district curriculum was critical of academic programs and expenditures.

Dixon says improvements are underway.

“Those adoptions take place this summer,” Dixon says. “Teachers will be trained. That curriculum will be implemented across our district this fall."

Dixon also says that the Columbus Board of Education should decide this summer on whether to ask voters for to approve a new levy in November.

“The committee has finished their recommendation and its now in the hands of the board,” Dixon says. “And the board is going to make a decision if we’re going to move forward.”

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.