Gov. Mike DeWine discusses guidelines for reopening Ohio schools

Posted at 1:50 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 19:54:28-04

COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine said he worked with teachers and health officials to create K-12 school guidelines as Ohio schools brace for the fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidelines include the following:

  • Vigilantly assess symptoms - Essential that health checks are conducted before each school day. Anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees or with other symptoms must stay home. Health department must be contacted if there is a case of COVID-19 at the school.
  • Wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread - Schools must provide opportunity for students and teachers to wash their hands throughout the day. Hand sanitizer can be used if hand washing is not possible.
  • Sanitize school environment - High-touch areas must be disinfected
  • Practice social distancing - Schools should strive to maintain 6 feet of distance in all environments, including in the classroom, playground, hallway, drop-off and pick-up locations.
  • Face covering policy - Every school must develop a face covering policy. School staff are required to wear a face covering unless it is unsafe. (Similar guidelines to businesses.) Face shields may be considered when communication is difficult, like if a teacher has students with special needs, etc. Children third grade and up should wear face masks. This is a strong recommendation from state officials.

DeWine said he will discuss with the General Assembly how to distribute funding to schools using CARES Act dollars. He said he hopes to have an update on that sometime next week.

Dr. Chris Peltier, a pediatrician with American Academy of Pediatrics, said he understands that parents are worried about their children returning to school. But he said children being out of school does more harm than good.

“Kids that are in school do more than just learn math and science. They learn social and emotional skills … and they get access to mental health support,” Peltier said.

Parents should stay up to date with check-ups and vaccinations, Peltier said. In addition, parents should check their child's temperature before sending them to school.

DeWine also announced a new alert system, which will be color-coded to assess COVID-19 spread across counties in Ohio.

The system has four levels to provide Ohioans with guidance on the severity of the virus where they live. The levels are determined by seven data indicators, including: an increase in emergency room visits (for COVID-19 related visits), a sustained increase in outpatient visits, new cases per capita, ICU bed capacity, sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions and data surrounding community spread in congregate settings.