OHIO- Schools across Ohio eagerly waiting on guidance from the governor about the restart of school, finally got a plan….ONE That relies heavily on information from the American association of pediatrics.
With a consensus that kids need to go back to school, Governor Mike Dewine indicated that flexibility and common sense will be needed to move ahead as districts retain local control. So when it comes to face coverings….it boiled down to teachers being required to wear face masks with a strong recommendation specifically for third graders and up wearing masks on school grounds and on buses to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus with a few exceptions. “Unless it is unsafe, or when doing so could significantly interfere with the learning process.” Governor Dewine said, he knows it’ll be a challenge on buses but ultimately, it’s up to districts to develop a policy on face coverings for kids.
In the classroom, Dewine recommended six feet apart but understands that’s going to be a challenge too as spacing is an issue in many schools. Moving forward, Dewine said he understood that the cost to restart school would come at a steep price, but that he was committed to getting extra dollars to districts.“We hope within a week to announce specific money that will be going to the schools. We do not anticipate it’s gonna be enough necessarily to take care of all the things that are taking place and the schools are doing.” Knowing the potential costs, Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers said, “It’s also about having enough staff to keep the school clean and enough to educate students when you’re social distancing or doing remote learning. Or any of those things. And unfortunately we already have districts who are cutting staff because they don’t know what kind of resources they’re gonna have.”
Aside from that, educators also have big concerns about enforcement of the recommendations and protection for staff. Cropper said, “If we have people who have who have legitimate health concerns about entering a school building, how are we making sure that one that they are safe or two that they don’t have to choose between their safety and doing their work.” That’s the just the short list of concerns. For now, she said they’re just hoping as local districts make decisions, staff will be included, without it being a top down approach.
As districts move forward and financial decisions are made, The Ohio Federation of Teachers is calling for Senator Rob Portman to push Senate Majority Mitch McConnell to bring the HEROES Act to a vote. That's so that schools can receive more money. Dewine wouldn’t say how much he’d be asking Ohio legislators to give to schools in the coming weeks.