On Wednesday, Governor DeWine signed HB 244 into law. The new law, which becomes effective on October 13, 2021, prohibits school districts from:
- Requiring an individual to receive a vaccine for which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not granted full approval.
- Discriminating against an individual who has not received such a vaccine, including by requiring the individual to engage in or refrain from engaging in activities or precautions that differ from the activities or precautions of an individual who has received such a vaccine.
The three COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) were approved by the FDA under Emergency Use Authorization. Although two of the three vaccines are currently being considered for full FDA approval, the FDA has not yet granted full approval for any of the three vaccines. As a result, HB 244 effectively prohibits schools from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for students or employees.
The new law also prevents differentiation based on vaccination status. As a result, once the bill becomes effective, a district cannot require an unvaccinated individual to take a precaution (e.g. wearing a mask) that differs from the precautions required of a vaccinated individual (e.g. not wearing a mask).
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said his office will be issuing additional guidance that outlines how the law will be enforced. An exact date on when the guidance will be available has yet to be released, but OSBA will continue to provide updates on the topic as they become available. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact OSBA’s division of legal services.