COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association are urging superintendents and school districts to require masks for all staff and students.
“We all share the goal of keeping our kids in school. Reasonable people may disagree about a lot, but we can all agree that we must keep our children in the classroom so they don’t fall behind and so their parents can go to work and not take time off to watch their kids at home,” DeWine said.
While children 12 and under are unable to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the governor said that the best way to keep students out of quarantine and to keep schools open is to “wear a mask until we get through this.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, over a two week period ending Sept. 4 there was an average of 909 cases per 100,000 for school-aged children compared to just 561 for the rest of the state.
“The 16 highest number of cases per day throughout the entire pandemic for kids aged 5 to 17 in Ohio have all been in the last 19 days,” DeWine said.
Since Aug. 15, 29,000 school-aged children have contracted COVID-19. This surge of cases is nearly a 200 percent increase from August to September.
According to DeWine, there are higher levels of COVID-19 in school districts where masks are not required. ODH’s school reporting dashboard compiles data submitted by each district, which can be searched by county.
Miami Valley Health Leaders praise Governor DeWine’s message to the state’s superintendents.
“I think it was absolutely the right call right now, where we are with covid in order to keep kids safe and in school, all schools really just need to use masks when kids are in attendance,” said Chief Medical Officer MVH Dr. Roberto Colon.
Dr. Colon says the key to ending the surge is protecting kids that are too young to be vaccinated. Kids under 12 years old aren’t eligible, which means a significant percentage of students in elementary school are not vaccinated.
“It’s a closed classroom, you’re not going to have great circulation moving around so if kids aren’t wearing masks they’re going to have that exposure to all of those around them,” said Dr. Colon.
Just today, Dayton Children’s Hospital says they only had two beds available for kids excluding NICU and behavioral health beds. Dayton Children’s leaders say this demand is creating an unsustainable pressure on staff.