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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled his plans for reopening K-12 schools in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. He made the announcements during his news conference on Thursday.

He said he believes there is a consensus among teachers, school administrators and parents that kids need to be back in school buildings. He said there will be a balance of local control and state interest.

The guidelines are as follows.

  1. Vigilantly assess symptoms. Anyone with a temperature of 100 or higher, or with symptoms of COVID-19 must be sent home.
  2. Wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread. Schools must provide hand sanitizer in high-traffic areas.
  3. Thoroughly clean the school environment.
  4. Practice social distancing. Schools should strive to maintain 6 feet of distance between students, staff and volunteers in classrooms, hallways and on buses.
  5. Face covering policy. Every school should come up with a face covering policy. Staff will be required to wear face coverings, unless it is unsafe or it interferes with the learning process. It is the state’s strong recommendation that children third grade and up should wear masks.

More information will be available later on the state’s website.

“We have an obligation, all of us, to educate our children and keep them safe. We recognize parents are the first and best teachers,” DeWine said.

Dr. Chris Peltier, pediatrician with the American Academy of Pediatrics Ohio spoke about the governor’s plan for returning to school during the news conference. He said children learn more than math and science at school; they learn social skills, and have access to healthy meals and mental health services.

“Mental health is such a big concern during these times,” Peltier said.

He said families need to be flexible. Peltier recommended parents having their children practice wearing face coverings.

DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health at the time, closed public, private and charter school buildings starting March 16 in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.