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Let schools, not state, control mask policies

Ohio Senate Bill 209 is another in a long string of bizarre attempts by state lawmakers to insert control at the local level, where it does not belong. SB209 would prohibit schools from requiring anyone — teacher or student — to wear a mask in a public education setting. It would also stop the state school board, the Ohio Department of Education, as well as individual school districts’ boards of education, from requiring masks in public education settings, from kindergarten through university settings, school athletic events or other school-related functions.

SB 209 was introduced by state Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, who was also part of the implementation of a recent law that banned public schools from issuing vaccine mandates. One wonders what changed in Brenner’s philosophy. Just a year ago, he was staunchly on the other side of the issue when it came to state lawmakers interfering with the way elected local school districts served their communities, according to an Ohio Capital Journal report.

At the time, Brenner said the decision on whether to open schools for in-person learning should be made by local government, not the state.

“Why would you not trust your local school boards and superintendents who know their school districts the best,” he said. ” … taking information from state and local health departments to be able to determine whether or not their local school districts should be open?”

Precisely. We know strategies for combating the spread of COVID-19 are not one-size-fits-all, and are best left to those living in our communities, rather than being dictated from Columbus. The sooner those politicians who call themselves conservatives remember that, the better. The schools throughout Columbiana and Mahoning counties did a fine job dealing with the virus during the turmoil of last year. They are up to a next challenge if needed. Leave them be.

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