There was a time when the isolation and shaming of children by teachers and authority figures was frowned upon.
But what was once considered cruel and abusive is now the norm in at least one Ohio school.
Children who cannot comply with the school district’s mandatory mask policy due to a medical exemption are segregated from other students throughout the school day.
Ohio Statehouse News learned of the situation via a social media post and contacted the school district to confirm.
West Liberty-Salem Local School District requires all students in third grade and up to wear face coverings in order to attend in-person classes, as do other Ohio schools due to Governor DeWine’s mandatory student mask order.
Students in K-second grade are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings, according to the district’s website.
Superintendent Kraig Hissong confirmed that mask-exempt students are isolated behind plexiglass at their desks to prevent the potential spread of COVID and are kept apart from other students as much as possible throughout the school day.
“These are precautions that have to be taken,” said Hissong . “This is the best we can do with what we have.”
When it is necessary to leave the classroom as a group, these children are placed at the front of the line and kept apart from classmates as much as reasonably possible, he said.
“This is the best chance that they will not come in contact with others,” said Hissong.
The Superintendent said there is an online option for students that cannot wear a mask. Those who choose to attend in-person school must be “accommodated” for their safety and the safety and the safety of others.
Acquiring a medical exemption in the West Liberty-Salem Local requires an order from the child’s physician and must go through the county health department, said Hissong.
The exemption is subject to approval from the school district, according to the its website.
“There are things I have to do as a superintendent,” said Hissong. “There are state directives that we need to follow. We need to make school as safe as we can.”
Hissong said there are up to six students in the district that have obtained or are in the process of obtaining a medical mask exemption.
There are 1156 students in the district, according to the website. Hissong said about 160 of them are doing online school.
“If your child refuses to wear a face covering at school, when it is required, and does not comply to school personnel when reminded to put his/her mask on, than there may be disciplinary consequences,” according to the website.
The district offers guidance on what type of mask students should wear during in-person school
More than two dozen parents have sued Ohio’s health director over the state’s mask mandate for children in schools. The case is onlging.
HB 606 was signed into law on Monday, September 16, 2020, that temporarily shields individuals, businesses, schools, health care providers and other entities from tort liability in incidents of COVID-19 exposure or transmission through Sept. 30, 2021.
A school dashboard was recently set up on the Ohio Department of Health coronavirus page that tracks cases by district.