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Health Order To Mandate Masks For K-12 Schools; State Unveils New County COVID Rankings

Aug 4, 2020

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine plans to issue an order that K-12 students returning to school must wear a mask.

DeWine said the order follows the advice of the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"There is a broad consensus among experts in this country that the way to protect teachers and students is for everyone who can to wear a mask," DeWine continued. "I fully understand the challenges. None of us want to have a mask on all day. Kids are kids. Teachers and kids will get this worked out. Without a vaccine we are limited in the ways that we can protect people in the state of Ohio. The other way is not to go back to school at all, and some schools are making that choice. But the schools deciding to go back - for them to have a chance of being able to stay open - wearing a mask provides that added protection."

DeWine also said today that the state is working with FEMA to distribute 2 million masks to schools for students and staff. To give schools as much information as possible, the state has developed a new county ranking system.  

"It does not replace the color code, which is more future-looking," DeWine said. "But when people are making decisions - and I'm not telling them what decisions to make - there's a lot of data out there. But it's incumbent upon us to make the sea we're all swimming in as safe as we can. What's going on in the community as far as community spread will directly impact what is going on in that school."

The rankings factor the cases over the last two weeks per 100,000 people. The top five counties listed today are Mercer, Lucas, Wyandot, Franklin, and Hancock. The governor today also announced that Doctor Amy Acton will leave her advisory role and return to work at the Columbus Foundation. Acton resigned as the state's health department director in June but stayed on as DeWine's chief health advisor.