COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine closed schools for three weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he announced Thursday afternoon.
All schools will close for three weeks starting Monday. He called it an “extended spring break” to slow down the transmission of COVID-19.
He acknowledged the risk of death from the virus for a child isn’t very high, but there were concerns about children being potential carriers of the virus.
Beginning at the conclusion of the school day on Monday, March 16, all K-12 schools will close to students through Friday, April 3. This order includes all public, community, and private K-12 schools in the state, but does not apply to Ohio’s childcare system such as daycare centers and home-based childcare providers.
During this closure, schools should work to provide education through alternative means and school district leadership may make decisions on whether to use their school buildings. Staff members should continue to report to school as directed by administrators.
“We want to thank educators and administrators for the extraordinary efforts they will take to continue offering services during this time of national crisis,” said DeWine.
Over the next 72 hours, the Ohio Department of Education will develop guidance for K-12 schools to ensure the continuity of important student services, including a strategy for providing meals.
This is a response from Paolo DeMaria, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, on today’s decision. It was emailed to media outlets just after 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Governor DeWine has taken an extraordinary step today to protect the health and safety of Ohio’s residents, students and educators. We appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from schools across the state during this time and their focused activity to be ready for this reality. We anticipate continued cooperation as we transition to this period of suspended in-person activity as seamlessly as possible. We are especially grateful to schools that have proactively developed plans to keep learning going even if school buildings aren’t open. There is a lot of momentum in Ohio’s schools right now and we would hate to see that momentum stalled, although we understand that today’s announcement does mean there will be disruptions.
We want to thank students, staff, families and caregivers who will need to exercise a great deal of flexibility in the coming weeks. We know this action causes disruption to established routines and expectations, but it was a necessary step to slow the spread of the outbreak.
We understand there are many questions. This is uncharted territory that we all are navigating together. We are working to provide answers but rest assured that we are committed to working with Governor DeWine, the legislature and other stakeholders to provide as much flexibility and latitude as necessary to accommodate these circumstances. Thank you for your patience.