Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the release of two guidelines for the re-opening of schools in the fall. One is health focused and the other is for school administrators. Staff of the OSBA division of legal services are reviewing the documents in detail and will provide more information soon.
At his press conference today, Gov. DeWine began discussing how parents are the best and first teachers, and we all have an obligation to educate our children. He further stated that, in Ohio, schools are controlled by locally elected school board members and that school boards and administrators are the proper authorities to make decisions about what's best for their students, families and communities.
However, the state’s guidelines do include some requirements for school boards and administrators. The guidance states that school staff and volunteers must wear masks, unless it is unsafe to do so or where doing so would significantly interfere with the learning process. The guidance strongly recommended that students in 3rd grade and higher wear a face mask unless they are unable to do so for a medical or development reason. Face shields that wrap around the face and extend below the chin can be considered as an alternative where cloth face coverings would hinder the learning process. Districts should work to reduce any kind of social stigma for students who should not or cannot wear mask for a medical reason.
Gov. DeWine also stated that each school should vigilantly assess staff and students for symptoms. The guidance states that schools should take temperatures of students and staff, respond when a staff member or student has fever, and contact the local health department if a district staff member or student has a case of coronavirus. Schools need to allow ample opportunity for staff and students to wash hands, as well as provide hand sanitizer in common areas and require students and staff to use it. Other guidelines are to thoroughly clean and sanitize all school environments, sanitize shared surfaces daily with disinfectants, and practice social distancing. Schools should strive to maintain 6-foot social distancing for students and staff as often as possible in all areas of school and school buses.
The OSBA team will continue to provide updates as the information becomes available. Join us for the next town hall, on Wednesday, July 8, at 4 p.m., when we will continue this discussion. Town halls are free, and you can find more information about registration on OSBA's website under Events (linked here).