Schools Will Remain Closed for Rest of School Year

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — As the state starts to consider how it will slowly start to reopen on May 1, schools will remain physically closed.

Gov. Mike Dewine made the announcement during his daily briefing Monday. The decision was made from conversations he’s had with principals, superintendents and other administrators, who were concerned about the continuity of having students return to school.

With a “relatively small amount of time left,” many principals and superintendents feel that reopening schools for in-classroom education is “not a good idea, even if the health situation was resolved, which obviously it is not,” DeWine said. The risk of children contracting the coronavirus and spreading it to their classmates, families and communities was the main reason to close schools in the first place, he said.

“Statistically, unless a child has a specific medical problem, the fatality rate is exceedingly low among young people. But we also know that young people are carriers,” DeWine said.

Similarly, there are no plans to reopen daycares or child care centers beyond the current order, he noted.

As for the fall, there is no decision on whether schools will reopen, he said.

“We’re going to have to see where we’re going,” he said. “We are simply not in the position yet to make that decision.”

DeWine says schools are already preparing for either contingency; whether schools remain physically closed or reopen. The governor said his administration will work closely with the school districts through the Ohio Department of Education to determine the best course of action.

“We continue to work together with schools, Governor DeWine, the legislature and the Ohio Department of Health on plans to keep students, staff and communities safe,” said Mandy Minick, deputy director of communications/press secretary for the Department of Education in an emailed response for a statement. “As always, we encourage schools to work together with their departments of health on the local level as well. This will be a group effort going forward.”

However school districts proceed, DeWine said he recognizes situations may be different between districts, populations and households. To that end, DeWine said the state will work with school districts based on their individual circumstances.

“As these decisions are made, we’re going to allow a great deal of flexibility, as we should, for the local schools, because what they find in their district and how their district looks is very different,” DeWine said.

Those differences include a number of student populations that the governor is particularly concerned with. Such students include those with special development needs, those who have health challenges, those with limited to no access to the internet and those who have no supportive home life, he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.