Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine strongly urged that schoolchildren continue wearing masks in school at least for the beginning of the academic year to avert more drastic coronavirus measures, such as quarantines or a return to online learning.
DeWine said the state doesn’t have experience with children in classes without masks, and said kids can’t afford another year without in-person schooling.
“The best way to make sure a child can stay in school and not have his or her classes interrupted is for that child to be vaccinated,” DeWine said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “If that child cannot be vaccinated, the best way to ensure a good school year for that child, is for that child to wear a mask while in class.”
A few minutes later, he added: “Or having everybody in class wear a mask, that’s how we slow this down. That’s how we keep kids in the classroom.”
School mask mandates vary widely across Ohio. Columbus, the largest district with about 50,000 students, is requiring them, as are Cincinnati and Cleveland schools, at least for the beginning of the year.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio rose over the past two weeks from 1,197.43 per day on Aug. 1 to 2,567.71 per day on Aug. 15, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The number of patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, on intensive units, and requiring a ventilator, have all increased over the past two weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Fayette County Public Health recently offered COVID guidance to K-12 schools for the 2021-22 school year:
The COVID pandemic is different from last year. In Fayette County, more than 75% of all people age 60 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID. High vaccination rates among this population have driven the virus to spread among the younger, less-vaccinated population – including those age 11 and younger who cannot be vaccinated yet. Vaccination rates in Fayette County are now at 39% of age eligible individuals, we are seeing a slight increase in vaccine interest over the last several weeks. Our vaccination rates for our age eligible 12-19 years old’s is currently 10%.
School Mask Policies. The evidence supporting the effectiveness of vaccines and masks is overwhelming. While other protective actions such as distancing, ventilation, and regular cleaning are important, they all pale in comparison to the impact vaccines and masks can have to prevent disease and keep students and staff in school. COVID vaccines represent a stunning advancement in modern medicine. Fayette County Public Health is proud to offer safe and effective COVID vaccine to anyone who wants to receive it. When vaccine becomes available to those age 11 and younger, we will offer to conduct voluntary vaccine clinics at the schools in addition to our operations at our office. Masks reduced transmission and helped keep students in school last year. Ideally all students and staff in schools should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Masks work best when everyone wears them.
Fayette County Public Health strongly urges schools to adopt all of the CDC, AAP, and the Ohio Department of Health recommendations for schools this year including universal masking. Currently, Fayette County School Districts plan to start with the recommendation to mask in K-12 schools, but no schools will be mandating mask use at this time. FCPH strongly feels masks are a proven method to limit transmission of COVID-19 and, besides vaccine, are the best tools to keep everyone in school as much as possible. It is important for parents to keep in mind that things may change quickly, and we may be forced to implement a stricter mask policy, event postponements and possibly other prevention measures if needed in the future. Our goal is to keep students in the classroom as safely as possible while reducing the spread of disease in our community. FCPH will continue to monitor our cases closely and continue to work with our local school districts in a supportive manner. As always please keep your child home if they are sick and seek medical care. Staying home when sick helps reduce transmission of illnesses including COVID-19.
• The COVID-19 delta variant is currently the predominant strain in Ohio.
Data shows that Delta is much different than past versions of the COVID-19 virus: it is much more contagious.
The delta variant is 50% more contagious than the alpha variant, which is itself 50% more contagious than the original COVID virus from early 2020.
Some vaccinated people can still get Delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious.
Even so, vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country.
• COVID-19 vaccination is our most effective strategy to prevent infection and severe disease.
Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.
To find a local vaccination provider, please visit our website here: http://faycohd.org/c19vaccination/#providers
• In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of Delta and protect others.
• Fayette County Public Health – faycohd.org
• Ohio Department of Health – coronavirus.ohio.gov
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/index.ht