Students and staff will have two choices when they walk into Youngstown City School buildings on Thursday: wear a mask or don't.

That decision will be left up to those individuals. The district announced that masks are now optional beginning February 24. Faculty can freely make the choice. Students on the other hand aren't completely off the hook.

Students must continue wearing masks while riding on all city school buses because of a federal mandate that requires them to do so, the district said.

Youngstown City Schools is now at least the fourth district to have made masks optional within the last month. Both Boardman Local Schools and the Newton Falls Exempted Village Schools switched its mask policies to optional earlier this week. Lowellville Local Schools announced that masks were optional for students and staff at the end of January. 

In a statement, Youngstown City Schools said its guidelines are not set in stone. The district reported that it would continue to monitor spikes in COVID-19 cases and the policy could change if necessary. The school system promised it would act accordingly in such a situation.

Youngstown City Schools did not immediately provide a reason for making its mask policy optional.