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What Ohio Teachers Think About Going Back to School Next Month With COVID Cases Trending Upward

Licking County classroom in 2019
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Students learn in a classroom in Licking County in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases of the disease are increasing as the Delta variant spreads throughout the state, and teachers want to be included in discussions for how schools will handle the start of the 2021-22 school year.

COVID cases in Ohio are trending upwardas schools are preparing to reopen for the upcoming school year. So, what do teachers think need to be done to make sure schools are safe?

Paper? Check. Pencils? Check. Mask? Maybe. The number of COVID-19 cases are rising in recent days and that has left many students, parents and teachers wondering if masks will be part of the school supply shopping list this fall.

The Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper says many schools are now in the process of deciding whether to require masks, how to deal with unvaccinated kids and how to keep them, as well as school staff, safe. And she hopes districts will make teachers part of that process.

“We believe that our teachers should be involved in decision-making at a local level,” Cropper said.

Scott DiMauro is the president of the state’s largest teachers union, the Ohio Education Association.  He says it would be wise for all options to be available, so he says legislation to keep schools from mandating masks should not be in play right now. 

“It doesn’t make sense to take tools off the table for schools that would keep students safe," DiMauro said.

Both teachers union leaders point out most educators are vaccinated against COVID, but many students are not. And students younger than 12 years old cannot be vaccinated at this time. TheCDChas said kids older than 2 years old who are not vaccinated should wear masks in schools. The American Academy of Pediatricsrecommends similar guidelines. Gov. Mike DeWine says his administration will issue guidance to schools soon.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles
Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.