Ohio teachers are required to wear masks in the classroom this fall. Governor Mike DeWine announced the back-to-school guidelines today. He strongly suggested kids 3rd grade and up wear masks but that decision will be up to individual schools.
This comes as COVID-19 cases spike in Ohio. There was another new case in Scioto County today. That brings our total to 37. The County’s threat level for Coronavirus is now considered Level 2. That means there’s been increased exposure and spread.
DeWine outlined the basic guiding principles of his new rules and the five guidelines schools must follow. Check out the new rules in the following six slides.
Kids Need To Be In Class
DeWine said that while parents did their best to school kids at home during the COVID-19 shutdown, many kids were left behind. “Our kids need to get back into the school building. That’s important. No matter how hard everyone tried to educate kids outside the classroom, some kids did not get exactly what they should have been getting.”
Further, the Governor said there were basic things that all Ohioans could agree on:
- We have an obligation to educate all children no matter what their background.
- The state and schools are obligated to keep children and teachers safe.
- Local control of school systems must be maintained.
DeWine outline five basic guidelines that each school district must follow to resume classes.
The Governor said parents, students, and school employees have a responsibility to check for symptoms. Parents should check for temperatures over 100 and COVID-19 symptoms daily and keep kids home if they show any signs of the virus.
- Schools may conduct daily temperature checks and symptom assessments for students if there’s an outbreak in their area.
- Monitor staff for symptoms and temperatures over 100.
- Send home anyone with a high temperature of symptoms.
- Report any cases of COVID-19 to the local Health Department.
- Schools must implement a testing strategy.
Hand Washing and Sanitizers
DeWine said schools must offer ample opportunity for teachers and students to frequently wash their hands. In addition, hand sanitizer stations must be made available in high-traffic areas throughout the school and in classrooms. The use of sanitizer is mandatory.
The Governor said he realized expenses like hand sanitizer could strain school budgets. “I plan to work with the General Assembly to give schools some assistance. We don’t anticipate it will be enough to take care of all of the things schools are doing.”
Clean All Surfaces
Schools must thoroughly clean and sanitize all shared surfaces frequently. The Governor said specific information about cleaning requirements will be posted shortly on the state’s Coronavirus website. Unfortunately, the site was hacked and techs were working to regain control and post the information.
When possible students and staff should stay at least six feet apart in all indoor and outdoor environments. This includes riding the bus.
DeWine suggested that schools can:
- Stagger lunch periods
- Each lunch in the classroom
- Stagger class start times
Masks Required For Teachers
All schools are required to develop a face-covering policy. Masks will be required for teachers, administrators, and other school employees. The only exceptions for teachers are where wearing masks is unsafe or interferes with the learning process. Face shields should be considered in those circumstances.
Masks are strongly suggested but not required for most students. Individual schools may choose to require them. The suggestions are as follows:
- Students third grade and up should wear masks
- Exceptions should be made for kids with health and developmental issues
- Teachers must work to reduce stigma for kids who can’t wear masks
- Make allowances for younger children
The Governor said, “I would imagine that some schools would be comfortable starting in kindergarten or first grade. The majority opinion seems to be that children K-6 can wear masks as long as allowances are made for their age. Just use common sense. ”
DeWine said these guidelines are based on the best available science but will likely change. “As more data comes in, as we learn more about this virus, it is good to try to keep up.”