Local parents split on statewide school closures for coronavirus

School bus lot in Cincinnati
Posted at 10:36 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 00:33:15-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story and see our ongoing coronavirus coverage here.

CINCINNATI — On Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that all public, private and charter K-12 schools would suspend classes starting Fridayamid the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19 in the state.

Angel Jackson, the parent of an eighth-grader at Walnut Hills, said she thinks the measure may have inadvertently caused more panic than calm.

“I feel like on one hand, it’s good preventative measures,” she said. “On another hand, the way things are being handled it kind of puts things in pandemonium.”

She also wondered how non-traditional or at-home learning that's centered online would exclude families without access to computers or internet.

“What if parents don’t have computers at home, so they can do online schooling? Then what happens? Do they fail the year? How do they handle it?” she asked.

Beyond possible makeup days, pushing back school testing, canceling events and even kicking graduation down the line, some parents may not be able to stay home with their kids or find childcare while school is closed, Jackson said.

“How are they going to get to work if they don’t have anybody to watch their kids? Like I said, pandemonium. It’s not right and it’s unfortunate," she said.

Erik Steudler, a parent who coaches lacrosse at Walnut Hills, said he somewhat expected the measures to come down. But with days left until the first game of the season, the news still came as a blow Thursday.

"Just the realization that 'Okay, my kids are going to be home now and that's it and because of that my life is also changed,'" he said.

Norwood City Schools Superintendent Mary Ronan told WCPO the governor's preventive measures were "unprecedented." At this time, it's unclear what will happen with standardized testing, and there is no current plan for make up days.

"It's all written into Ohio Revised Code, so that's all going to have to be changed or waived to fit this crisis situation that we're in," she said.

All employees will be paid, and Norwood City Schools have made arrangements to provide a sack lunch each day. Norwood has no plans to cancel graduation at this time.

"I think a lot of students, a lot of families are very disappointed, but then, you know, the governor's right," Ronan said. "Student safety and the safety of all Ohioans certainly is paramount."

For an updated list of school closures in Ohio and Kentucky, click here.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.