With 2021 in the rear view mirror, schools in the area are ready to welcome back students and staff into their buildings for the second half of the school year.

But with the highest amount of positive COVID-19 cases that the pandemic has seen, school officials took their winter break re-evaluating their mask policy.

Should they mandate them?

Should they strongly recommend them?

Two local area school districts are taking each approach.

On Thursday, Canton Local School District announced that they will be mandating masks for all students and staff in their buildings from January 3 - January 14 in a statement that was published to their Facebook page.

“This policy is being put into place due to the rise of COVID in our community, the unknown of how many students and staff members have been a close contact during winter break, and the substitute shortage we are experiencing throughout all areas of our school system,” The statement says. “Our goal is to keep our schools open safely for in-person learning and keep moving forward with all of our extracurricular activities.”

The statement also says that facial coverings are still required by federal order for students and staff on school transportation.

On Saturday, Carrollton Exempted Village Schools also took to Facebook to announce their update on the Districts’ COVID policy. 

The statement says “In an effort to return to school in a healthy and safe manner, the District is strongly recommending that staff and students wear a face covering when we return to school on Tuesday. However, face coverings are not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. Also, Carrollton Schools is not going to remote learning.” 

The District is coming off a time period that saw the highest number of cases during the pandemic over the last couple of weeks.