CLEVELAND (WJW) — Free Ohio Now is holding rallies around the state of Ohio Saturday to send a message to Governor DeWine and Ohio’s health leaders that it is safe to open schools this fall without restrictions.
The organization, which has held several other rallies encouraging officials to reopen the state, argues that Ohio must bring the students back into the classroom this fall under regular conditions and let the teachers educate the children.
“Closing the schools ruined the senior year for the Class of 2020 and negatively impacted all other students,” said Tom Hach, Free Ohio Now Core Team Member. “The Ohio Department of Education’s possible configurations for operating schools on alternating days or on half-day classroom schedules, commingling classroom attendance with distance learning, and requirements for students to wear masks all day are not sound academic policies. Staggering partial in-classroom schedules with distance learning cannot be effectively implemented by most districts, will not complement families with working parents, and will hurt single parents most.”
The organization wants the state department of education to revisit and revised the proposed fall school opening options.
Click here to read the draft of proposed regulations (masks, transportation, physical distancing, cleaning) for school opening this fall in Ohio.
Free Ohio Now argues the state health and education department proposals are bad for students and local schools.
They say leaders’ underlying assumptions about masks and distancing are faulty, arguing that “the Center for Disease Control, US Department of Health and the Surgeon General all have stated wearing masks is not effective in preventing a virus which has already infected this many.”
Click here to read Free Ohio Now’s full release reopening schools.
Ohio schools have been closed since March 16 as educators were forced to make the switch to distance learning. That created concerns about students without access to computers and the internet, as well as students who already struggle in the classroom.
School closures due to the pandemic have impacted more than 56 million public and private school students in the US, and 20 million of those kids rely on school lunches.
Many of the plans to reopen that have been announced so far involve social distancing, PPE, testing, isolation plans, and regular cleaning protocols. Some schools are also exploring hybrid models combining in-person and virtual learning. Such a major shift in how schools run will likely mean more teachers and resources will be needed.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has said the state intends to have K-12 school resume in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic however it is still unclear what exactly that will look like.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has hesitated to make any broad statements about the safety of schools reopening, but said that conversation needs to happen with a particular focus on the infection level in each community.
Experts say data has consistently shown that coronavirus affects children less often and with less severity in comparison to adults. As of June 10, less then 5 percent of all coronavirus cases were children under the age of 18, according to the CDC. There is a small percentage of children who have a more severe reaction to coronavirus, and develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, but the rate of this complication is so far extremely low.
What remains unclear is the extent to which children infected with the virus can pass it onto others.