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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new order requiring masks in schools for students K-12 during his coronavirus news conference on Tuesday.

The new policy comes following the joint recommendation from the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics that all children returning to school wear face coverings.

School staff are also required to wear masks.

“We’re doing it to give our teachers and our students the best chance to succeed,” DeWine said. “Our goal must be to give a safe environment for our students, a safe environment for our teachers.”

There are exceptions for the following students:

  • Children under the age of 2 years
  • Any child unable to remove the face covering without assistance
  • A child with significant behavioral or psychological issues undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by the use of facial covering
  • A child living with severe autism or with extreme developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious wearing a mask
  • A child with facial deformity that causes airway obstruction

The governor also emphasized the importance of dealing with community spread of COVID-19 in determining if schools will be able to resume in-person instruction.

“It’s incumbent upon us to make the sea that we are all swimming in as safe as we can. And what is going on in the community, as far as community spread, will directly impact what is going on in that school,” DeWine said.

Last month, DeWine released a five guidelines for reopening Ohio schools. At that time, he said every school district should come up with a face covering policy with the strong recommendation that students in grades three and up wear masks.

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