As Gov. Mike DeWine gradually reopens Ohio after a two-month coronavirus shutdown, schools, one of the first to close, remain off the list.
DeWine has asked local schools to begin planning but has made no decision on whether they will be permitted to open in August. The governor is waiting to see if the re-opening of businesses, restaurants, day cares, gyms and campgrounds causes a significant spike in COVID-19 cases before returning 1.7 million students back to the classroom. The state’s flatten-the-curve goal aims to keep cases lower than the number hospitals can handle.
On Tuesday, state senators weighed in and heard from education groups and teachers unions about re-opening schools for the 2020-2021 school year whether a complete return to the classroom, continued online learning as students did the past two months, or some combination of the two.
Finance Committee Chairman Matt Dolan commended educators for meeting student needs during the pandemic. “On Friday you had in-person classes as normal; on Monday you were teaching online,” he said. His panel is soliciting information about how best to safely reopen schools.
Union representatives for teachers and staff focused on safety.
“The ability to provide safe environments will be a large factor in determining how education will be delivered next year,” Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, told lawmakers.
She cited the need for personal protection equipment like masks, daily temperature checks, sanitization of desks and computers between classes, reduced class sizes of 12 to 15 students, and staggered arrival times and lunch periods to promote social distancing,