(7-2-20) Ohio Governor Mike DeWine released the state’s guidelines for restarting school this fall. A 36-page document was released today after some technical glitches on the website.
Below are the highlights of the documents and thoughts of the Governor. A link to the complete the document is listed below.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health indicate that COVID-19 will be present at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. Also, as has been the experience over the past several months, conditions can change rapidly. District and school planning will need to contemplate various contingencies. As a result, this planning guide operates under the following assumptions:
• Ohio’s education system must be nimble, flexible and responsive to ensure the health and safety of all students and adults.
• Schools will need to have the capacity to operate in various modes at different times and, sometimes, with minimum advance notice.
• When schools are operating with students in the building, they will need to adhere to health and safety guidelines set forth by the Ohio Department of Health and local health departments. Guidelines may change as circumstances change, which most likely should lead to course corrections throughout the year.
• The traditional school experience as it was known prior to the onset of the pandemic will be different, as will many of the day-to-day practices of schools.
Some highlights from the 36-page document –
:Remote learning should be considered as an option for students and staff for the entire school year, as many families will have higher-risk health concerns and/or may not feel comfortable with in-person instruction until a vaccine is available.
Building and classroom capacity: The health and safety guidelines should be used to determine how many students can be accommodated in each classroom and how many can be accommodated in each building. Understanding classroom and building capacity will be fundamental to planning all other components of the educational experience.
Each classroom should be analyzed for square footage and then the maximum number of students and staff who can occupy it at any given time to remain within determined health guidelines. Use of other non-classroom space should be considered for instructional purposes, such as the cafeteria, auditorium, gymnasium, outdoor areas and other large spaces.
Transitions: The manner in which students and staff move throughout a building during the school day will be deserving of deliberate design. Schools should consider the possibility of teachers moving rather than large numbers of students doing so to minimize the number of interactions (consistent with promoting social distancing).
Extracurricular/Co-curricular Activities (athletics, music, student groups): The Ohio Department of Education continues to collaborate with the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio High School Athletic Association, Ohio Music Education Association and others to determine summer practice routines and fall sports routines to be implemented.
Schools and districts should work with their local health departments and stakeholders to determine the appropriateness and practical realities of whether to continue certain activities. Participation in each activity will need to be determined based upon maintaining Ohio Department of Health, local health department, Ohio Department of Education and Ohio High School Athletic Association guidance. Alternative methods for practice, instruction, rehearsal and performance should be considered to maintain maximum participation while minimizing health and safety risks.
COMPLETE – Guidelines (36 pages PDF file)
Governor Mike DeWine comments on the plan –
Working with educators & health officials, we’ve created K-12 school guidelines – backed by science – for schools to follow when developing their reopening plans. Schools can adjust their rules to what works best for them for a safe environment and that protects students/staff.
While teachers/students did outstanding w/ distance learning, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends students be physically present in school as much as possible. To keep schools open, our guidelines are designed to create the safest environment possible for our students and staff.
FACE COVERINGS IN SCHOOLS: Just as we have done in the business sector with employees, we are requiring school staff to wear face coverings to reduce the spread of the virus, unless it is unsafe or when doing so could significantly interfere with the learning process.
When face coverings aren’t practical, face shields may be considered. For example, wearing a face mask could make communication more difficult when teachers are interacting with students with disabilities or students who are learning a foreign language.
Because of the importance of face masks in slowing the spread of COVID-19, schools must establish a face mask policy. In doing so, they should consider all the available science.