Coronavirus in Ohio Friday update: DeWine warns school districts not to delay reopening plans

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine spoke out Friday night against certain urban districts in Ohio that are not sticking to the state’s plan to reopen schools to in-person or hybrid learning by March 1.

As of Friday, Feb. 12, a total of 934,742 (+3,305) cases have been reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 15,136 (+2,559) deaths and 48,411 (+142) hospitalizations. A total of 1,199,592 residents, or 10.26% of the state’s population, have started the vaccination process.

Ohio has wrapped up the second week of vaccinating the state’s school workforce, with schools and districts agreeing to the March 1 date as a condition of receiving doses of the vaccine. But DeWine said he was hearing that some urban schools and districts were looking at backing off that date.

“We have learned that there are a handful of schools that have indicated they will break that promise … not just a commitment to me, but really a commitment to the children of their district,” DeWine said. “This is simply not acceptable.”

DeWine said he discussed the issue Friday with Cleveland schools officials, and he threatened to suspend the vaccination program if they did not agree to the March 1 date. He said they complied.

He also called out Walnut Hills High Schools in Cincinnati, saying it had announced plans to continue a remote-learning model for the remainder of the school year. And he said a plan in Akron to return to in-person learning March 15 “not acceptable.”

DeWine did not mention Columbus City Schools, which is targeting March 1 in its plan.

In addition to school personnel, the state’s vaccination program continues for residents 65 and older and those with certain medical disorders.

Another group will be added to the vaccination list next week, those who have conditions from childhood that would make them high risk for COVID-19, conditions such as severe asthma or heart defects, Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis.

DeWine has said that as vaccine supply increases, it will be made available at more locations, including hospitals, pharmacies and eventually mass-vaccination sites.

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