(The Center Square) — School may not be out forever, after all.
The state has issued guidance for schools when they reopen this fall. Wearing masks will be part of the equation.
The state’s guidance encourages schools to “vigilantly assess symptoms,” including washing and sanitizing hands. The guidelines also call for schools to mandate face masks for staff and volunteers, practice social distancing and clean and sanitize schools.
“We know that each school system, and perhaps each school building, will likely look different in the fall. We also know that Ohio has a long history of local control and that school administrators and teachers know their schools best,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a news release.
“Working together and consulting with educators and other health officials, we have developed a set of guidelines, backed by science, that each school should follow when developing their reopening plans,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Department of Education has created “The Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts.” The document is designed to provide teachers, principals and administrators with solutions to safety-related challenges. You can access the plan here.
“Just as we have done in the business sector with employees, we are requiring school staff to wear face coverings to reduce the spread of the virus, unless it is unsafe or when doing so could significantly interfere with the learning process. When face coverings aren’t practical, face shields may be considered,” DeWine said. “We strongly recommend that students in 3rd grade and up wear face coverings as well.”
The Ohio Education Association (OEA) wants the DeWine Administration to consider how to enforce the guidelines.
“OEA understands and respects the long-standing adherence to local control in decision-making around public education, but the state also has a critical role to play amidst an unprecedented public health crisis and a rising number of cases of COVID-19,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said in a statement.
“While we appreciate the consideration given to the importance of social distancing, health checks, and sanitation protocols in the Governor’s plan, it lacks a means of enforcement, even when a county is in the highest tier of the alert system,” DiMauro added.
“Parents need to feel confident that schools are safe for their students to return to if we have any hope of successfully reopening the economy,” DiMauro added. “They should not have to choose between their students’ health and their academic success,” DiMauro said.
“A good number of Ohio’s educators are in the highest-risk group for severe complications from COVID-19. They should not have to choose between their livelihood and their health,” he continued.
DeWine said he will work with state lawmakers to make sure federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money makes it to schools across the state.
Todd DeFeo is a contributor The Center Square