Ohio’s K-12 students should be learning remotely, starting now, and not return to the classroom until Jan. 11, according to recommendations from the Ohio Education Association (OEA), the union representing most of the state’s teachers.
The early 2021 start date would allow students and staff 10 days at home following the New Year holiday, according to OEA president Scott DiMauro, who said the recent spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state is being felt at schools still providing in-person instruction, which are experiencing a “critical shortage of teachers, substitute teachers and bus drivers.”
“What we're hearing from our leaders and staff from around the state is that a lot of districts, where there is still in-person instruction happening, schools are just struggling,” DiMauro said. “They're struggling because there is an increased number of students and staff who are testing positive. There is a very large number of people that are being required to quarantine because they've been directly exposed to the virus.”
Because of these factors now, DiMauro said, following winter break, students and staff should stay home for an extended amount of time before returning to a school campus.
“And so we're saying, let's have a timeout, let's have a reset. Let's give an opportunity for everybody who's sick to get better, for everybody who is quarantined and to get through that quarantine period,” DiMauro said.
Once schools do re-open brick-and-mortar doors, local school districts should make sure local health departments are on board with the COVID-19 safety plans in place.
“We need local boards of health to be very clear in reviewing school districts’ instructional and school safety plans, to make sure that all of those mitigating factors are in place, that schools can ensure that they will keep everybody safe,” he said.