COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state's schools and daycare centers are being asked to continue to enforce mask mandates until June 2, the date when all health orders will be lifted in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday.
What You Need To Know
- Students in Ohio will be wearing masks until at least June 2
- Local districts can choose to end mask mandates after that date
- Gov. DeWine said he would like schools to continue requiring masks
The governor said the state was releasing a new order Monday evening that ends mask requirements for many situations in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance that fully vaccinated Americans by and large do not need to wear masks.
Under the new order, establishments no longer need to require masks for individuals to enter their premises, and DeWine said because there is no way for a business in Ohio to check someone’s vaccination status, the change applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.
But the governor said Ohio is asking schools to continue to enforce mask mandates for now because schools fall under a category of “settings with large numbers of unvaccinated individuals.”
Ohio is also keeping mask mandates for public transportation and health care settings in accordance with CDC guidance, DeWine said.
While some Ohio schools will be on summer break by June 2, other Ohio school districts finish their academic years in late June.
The state's order gives schools the ability to change their mask policies in time for the start of summer school. Many districts are offering more summer school options this year – efforts to address learning gaps from the pandemic.
The governor said Monday Ohio is bringing its approach to reopening into alignment with the guidance of CDC officials who maintain that those who have not been vaccinated should still wear a mask and socially distance.
He clarified during a question and answer session it is his preference that schools finish the year with masks.
“We want the schools to finish out the school year just like they started and that is to have everyone have a mask on. It has worked exceedingly well,” he said. “We've been able to keep spread out the classroom.”
On June 2, the governor said Ohioans will wake up and all the health orders will be lifted, meaning at that point he is no longer telling schools what to do.
DeWine commended Ohio’s school administrators, staff and students for their efforts to keep school safe for the past nine months.
“We've kept spread in the classroom to virtually nothing, and that's a tribute to the administrators, teachers, and to the students. We want that to continue on,” he said.
Ohio schools reported 927 new student cases in the most recent weekly update, a decline from the previous several weeks. The state reported 1,191 new cases a week ago and 1,161 new cases two weeks ago. In total, Ohio’s schools have reported 51,926 cases of COVID-19 among students and 24,749 cases among staff.
“We would like for them to finish up, but June 2 is the day when you get up and the health orders are off, and so if a school wants to make a decision that late in the year to switch over and not have mandatory masks, they can do that,” he said.
DeWine also said Monday Ohio wants to make the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine more available to newly-authorized 12- to 15-year-olds at pediatricians offices throughout the state.
“We know that some people have told us that they are used to going into their primary care physician, used to going to their pediatricians office," he said. “We are making this available to any pediatricians office that wants the vaccine.”