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Statehouse Update; School Guidelines For Fall Classes

An empty classroom with chairs stacked on the desks
Guidelines are out in Ohio for schools to resume in the fall, but many are concerned. [Shutterstock]

Early on, Governor Mike DeWine and former Health Director Amy Acton were praised for their quick response to the pandemic - and the curve was somewhat flattened. In recent weeks though, the country has seen a surge of cases, Ohio included; though the early action may be why we're currently better off than many other states. But the numbers are not good: As of right now, Ohio has recorded more than 58,900 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
That's an increase of 948 over yesterday's numbers. There have been 2,970 deaths, an increase of 43 in those 24 hours. There were 134 new hospitalizations, and 24 new ICU admissions as well.
Nearly 19,000 of those cases are in the state's two most populous counties, Franklin and Cuyahoga. These numbers illustrate a general uptick in cases statewide. Tuesday, Governor Mike DeWine held a news conference that he didn't even schedule until yesterday, specifically to address the increasing numbers, a string of recent facial convering mandates in Ohio's largest cities, and to offer further explanation of a new advisory system that examines the numbers in the state. We dive into the latest with Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler.

Also on today's program, over and over, the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped our lives, and toppled any sort of structure we may have thought we had. The daily routines of 'packing up the lunches' and 'getting the kids onto the bus' disappeared in March, as schools nationwide went on a sort of "indefinite spring-break" and then an early summer break. Now states and school districts are creating plans to reopen in the fall and get kids back into the classroom. But they're far from operating in a vacuum. Other groups are weighing in as well. The Centers for Disease Control last week released guidelines for how to safely begin the school year. President Trump tweeted out on Monday, "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!", and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said yesterday on a conference call with the country's governors that she expects schools to be "fully operational" come the fall, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic. But school systems are struggling with everything from teachers willingness to return, to providing technology for remote learning, to even having enough space in a classroom for students to maintain a safe distance.
And don't get them started about how to socially distance inside a 65 seat school bus. As we mentioned at the top of the show, the Governor has announced guidelines for schools to reopen in the fall. But with rising COVID cases here, and surges nationwide, 'how' do districts develop their plans? Karen Kasler stays with us as we bring in ideastream reporter Jenny Hamel, and New York Times correspondent Anemona Hartocollis.


- Karen Kasler, Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau

- Jenny Hamel, Reporter, Ideastream

- Anemona Hartocollis, Reporter, The New York Times

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.