Some schools in Ohio say they won’t reopen for in-person learning by March 1st, despite superintendents having made a commitment to do so, in exchange for priority COVID-19 vaccinations.
Ohio Governor called an unusual Friday night press conference to express dismay over the decisions.
"They signed the document. They signed to say they would go back in. If we were going to have that discussion, that discussion should have taken place at that time."
In Cincinnati, the school board approved a decision to allow Walnut Hills High School to remain remote for the time being, because of over crowding.
In Columbus, no decision has been made for middle schools and most high school students to return, because COVID-19 precautions mean there aren’t enough buses to transport students.
In Cleveland, CEO Eric Gordon says vaccination will not be completed until mid-March, and has not indicated when students might return.
In Akron, the district received only 900 of the needed 3,000 vaccine doses, and will not complete vaccinations until March 6th.
DeWine insists that national research and the state’s own limited study of exposure say that students in classrooms with appropriate masks, social distancing, and other COVID-19 protocols in place are safe. But teachers unions have been critical of returning too quickly, saying it’s not safe for students or staff until they have not only been vaccinated, but reached full immunity, typically two weeks after the second dose.
Scott DiMauro, the head of the state teacher’s union notes that DeWine stopped short of saying that he would withhold vaccines from people who were scheduled to receive them. He applauded clarified guidelines released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about returning safely to in-person instruction.
“It is simply not possible to follow the CDC’s rules without the resources to do so,” DiMauro explained. “More than 60 percent of Ohio’s teachers are already teaching in person – some are doing so at risk to themselves. But they shouldn’t have to. “
The 33-page document from the CDC emphasizes masks, distancing and ventilation. it says vaccination of teachers is important, but not a prerequisite for reopening schools.