Gov. Mike DeWine announced that students will learn remotely for the remainder of the school year.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 20, 2020
Update on Cases
The Ohio Department of Health’s latest report once again shows a significant jump in COVID-19 cases. For the third straight day, more than 1,000 new cases have been reported in the past 24 hours. Ohio now has 12,919 total cases of the coronavirus.
Ohio has tested more than 90,000 people for the coronavirus. The Buckeye State has a positive test rate of around 14%.
Schools Closed for Rest of Academic Year
Governor DeWine opened his media availability this afternoon by addressing one of the main topics on the minds of many Ohioans: the school system.
DeWine announced that K-12 schools in Ohio will continue receive an education remotely for the remainder of this academic year. The Governor thanked the state’s school system employees for their continued hard work.
“I want to take a moment to thank all of our teachers and school administrators and support staff, such as our kitchen staff, bus drivers, and maintenance workers,” DeWine said. “You are all our heroes. I want to thank all of the parents as well.”
Do why is the state keeping schools closed? Governor DeWine says it was simply the safest and smartest option at this time.
“We’ve flattened the curve, but the virus remains,” said DeWine. “Also, to go back to school now with a relatively small amount of time left, many educators have expressed to me that this wouldn’t be a good idea even if the health situation was resolved.”
DeWine says Ohio has to think about the risk to teachers, students, and our communities. As we move forward, the Governor says the state has made no decision about the fall.
“I know parents, teachers, and administrators are anxious about an answer about the fall, but we’re not in the position to make that decision yet.”
There is the possibility that Ohio will have a blended system this fall, some distance learning as well as some in person learning, depending on how bad the virus is in certain areas. DeWine says for now, that’s just a possibility and each school district is different.
Understanding that this announcement ended any hope current high school seniors had toward getting to experience meaningful events such as graduation, prom or spring athletic seasons, Governor DeWine expressed his sympathies.
“It’s not going to be easy, and it’s a real shame,” said DeWine. “I can’t express how sorry I am about that because I know how much all of these activities mean to young people, especially those in their senior years.”
DeWine added that he has concerns about particular groups of kids who aren’t able to physically be in school. Those groups include:
- Children with special developmental needs
- Children with health challenges
- Kids with no or limited access to the internet
- Children who do not have a supportive home lives
The Governor said the state will continue to work with the state’s school system to ensure Ohio students receive the best education possible.
DeWine added that no decision has been made on daycare facilities at this time.
COVID-19’s Impact on African Americans
Governor DeWine spoke about data that shows how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting African Americans in Ohio and the country. DeWine says the state has put together a Minority Health Strike Force to help address this issue.
“It’s a group of people from throughout Ohio who will focus on this issue,” said DeWine. “The group includes minority business leaders, faith community leaders, and others, and this group’s membership will continue to grow.”
New COVID-19 Data Coming Soon
Governor DeWine spoke about the COVID-19 statistics, metrics and information that has been made available on the state’s coronavirus website. He says the state continues to walk the fine line between being transparent while also not violating individuals privacy rights.
DeWine says the biggest challenge when providing information is ensuring that everything is accurate. He mentioned that some information given last week was not accurate.
“Last week we published information about positive cases in long-term care facilities as was provided to the Department of Health. Prior to this, there was inconsistent reporting causing errors in that data and we have taken it down.’
The Governor says the state will have updated data on Wednesdays at 2 PM. Further, the state will collect data on nursing homes that will breakdown of COVID-19 cases by residents and staff.
Additionally, while balancing transparency and individual privacy rights, DeWine announced the state will report aggregate death data for nursing homes and assisted living facilities at the county level.
The reporting module will need to be modified to accurately collect this information. The Governor expects the reporting on deaths at long-term care facilities by county to begin next week.
Information on COVID-19 cases in the state’s health care facilities will also be available soon. Governor DeWine announced that he has directed the Ohio Department of Health to modify the system to accurately collect case information for individuals who are in direct care providers at hospitals, including the name of the hospital where they work.
“I expect this data to be available very soon,” said DeWine. “You’ll be able to see by hospital the number of staff, if any, who have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Ohio Prison System Update
This weekend the state saw a major spike in cases of COVID-19. A large chunk of those cases were connected to a few prisons within the Buckeye State. Governor DeWine spent time this afternoon explaining the entire situation.
“The reason you’re seeing the numbers spike is because we’re doing mass testing. The Ohio National Guard is in the process of building out to create more space. We’re looking at more prisoners who can be released, all while balancing public safety.”
DeWine says the state does not intend to do a wholesale release where every one in a certain category gets out of prison.
“We need to do this thoughtfully, and we want to protect our corrections employees and inmates.”