An organization representing over 100,000 Ohio educators slammed Gov. Mike DeWine’s back-to-school guidelines in a statement issued Tuesday night.
The measures in place for the upcoming school year won’t keep teachers, school workers, students or their families safe, according to the Ohio Education Association’s board of directors.
The group criticized DeWine’s administration for making recommendations instead of requirements, and its leaders called on the governor to prohibit in-school learning in counties deemed high-risk by the Ohio Department of Heatlh.
“OEA believes that reopening for in-person instruction prematurely poses unacceptable risks to the lives and health of students, adults who work in schools, and the people they care for,” per the group’s position statement.
At the time the statement was issued, 23 of Ohio’s 88 counties were colored red on ODH’s map, indicating “high exposure and spread.”
The department’s official advice for such counties: “Limit activities as much as possible.”
No county had yet reached the highest level, purple, at which health officials advise residents “only leave home for supplies and services.”
The Ohio Education Association's full list of demands includes that DeWine require — not request — distancing, mandatory masking, strict handwashing protocols, daily health checks and procedures for quarantining people presumed positive for COVID-19 during the 2020-’21 school year.
The government should also invest in additional funding for school transportation systems, it said, to ensure distances on buses, and for in-school health staff to help them develop appropriate COVID-19 responses.
“Our members have entered education professions because they deeply care about the success of all students, and we are committed to meeting the needs of students in any mode of learning that maintains safety, including through remote learning as long as it is necessary,” the board wrote in its statement.