Ohio's eight largest teachers unions, including the Columbus Education Association, are denouncing the way Ohio Governor DeWine is rushing a return to in-person classes weeks before school staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Getting students back to school is one of the key goals of the state's vaccination program, and Dewine announced that teachers and other school-based staff would receive priority vaccines starting February - but only if superintendents signed a pledge that students would return by March 1.
In a statement released today, the teachers unions from Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Canton, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown say they are disappointed Dewine has used the vaccine as a bargaining chip - "pitting parents, administrators, teachers, other school workers and students against each other".
Given the slow rollout of vaccinations, the unions say few if any district's staff will be fully vaccinated by the March 1 deadline to return.
Vaccines become available for school staff February 1 - the same day Columbus City Schools begins a phased-in return to classrooms part time.