All of Ohio’s 1.7 million school kids in kindergarten through 12th grade will be required to wear masks if and when they return to classrooms, under a new order from the DeWine administration.
The order applies to private, charter and traditional public schools. It makes exceptions for children with certain medical conditions or behavioral health issues. Schools will also be implementing social distancing and cleaning measures as well.
“Frankly this gives us the best shot that we can,” DeWine said on Tuesday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will help Ohio distribute 2 million masks to schools.
DeWine said there won’t be any “mask police” forcing first graders to wear masks but added “teachers and kids will get this worked out.”
Many Dayton-area school districts, including Mad River, Miamisburg and Huber Heights, already had included mask orders for school reopening, but it was not universal.
Springboro’s policy “strongly recommends face coverings for students in grade 3-12,” but does not mandate them.
Franklin's plan depends on the county alert level. Based on Warren County's current Level 2 status, masks would have been required on buses, in the lunch line and "in certain situations when within six feet of staff/peers."
Troy’s plan says “when 6 feet of social distancing can be achieved, students will not be required to wear a face mask.”
The ability of schools to remain open hinge on widespread use of masks in Ohio, he said. He later said that his administration is not contemplating circumstances in which there would be a statewide school shutdown order.
The Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday reported 95,106 confirmed and probable cases; 11,119 cumulative hospitalizations; and 3,570 confirmed and probable deaths.
DeWine also announced that Dr. Amy Acton is leaving state government to return to the Columbus Foundation. Acton, appointed in February 2019, stepped down as ODH director in June.
The governor continued to warn Ohioans about the coronavirus spreading from contacts made at informal gatherings such as BBQs, parties, weddings and family get-togethers.
“Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you’re immune from catching the virus from them,” DeWine noted. Skipping the party or backyard BBQ is a sign of love and friendship, he said.
Ohio’s high school athletes and college and professional sports fans will have to wait a little longer to find out if the DeWine administration is going to allow games for contact sports such as football and soccer or big crowds at competitions.
DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said they are working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association and considering a range of options.
About 315,000 high school students participate in sports in Ohio.
Husted said the administration is currently reviewing plans from the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals to safely accommodate fans.
Staff writer Jeremy Kelley contributed to this report.
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