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COLUMBUS (WJW) — During a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine continued to appeal to school districts around the state to mandate masks in the classroom.

He noted that the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association is now asking all school districts to mandate masks in schools.

The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association has been calling for masks in the classroom since the start of the school year, but as the spread of COVID-19 continues and hospitals are being overwhelmed, today they appealed to school superintendents.

“There’s no place you can run from the COVID,” DeWine said, showing on a map how all counties in Ohio are experiencing high rates of coronavirus spread.

Some of the highest COVID daily case rates in children ages 5 to 17 have been reported over the last 19 days, DeWine said.

DeWine also pointed out that “there is a higher level of COVID in school districts where masks are not required.” About 50 percent of all children in Ohio are currently masked in schools, DeWine said.

DeWine, a Republican, made clear that his hands are tied at this time, saying he can make a mask mandate health order but that it would be overruled by the Republican-run state legislature immediately. In March, the state legislature overrode the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 22, which allows lawmakers to change or reject health orders issued by the state. 

“Nobody wants to have masks in schools, but I think people are realizing that when we look at this facts, this is the only way to keep our kids in schools,” DeWine said.