OHIO — The Ohio Education Association is urging school districts to follow COVID-19 guidance from major health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The AAP and CDC is recommending universal mask wearing in schools, regardless of vaccination status.
“Educators want nothing more than to return to full, in-person instruction this fall,” said OEA President Scott DiMauro. “But we want to make sure that when we do, we do so safely for our kids and communities.”
The statement comes after Cincinnati Children's Hospital, the state health department and local health departments issued similar recommendations. Cincinnati Children's, the Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health all recommended universal mask wearing Wednesday.
The Ohio Department of Health urged the public Monday to get vaccinated and wear masks, specifically calling for unvaccinated individuals to wear them. ODH recommended those who are vaccinated should wear masks in large crowds or where social distancing isn't possible.
"To facilitate and maximize keeping our students safe in the classroom, while also minimizing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, both health departments strongly recommend schools follow CDC guidance and adopt universal masking policies for all students, teachers and staff regardless of their vaccination status," FCPH and CPH wrote in a statement. "It is proven that masking reduces transmission of the virus which causes COVID-19 and it also protects those who are not vaccinated."
The OEA echoed those statements, encouraging schools to "listen to the medical experts."
“Our members’ primary concern is for the health and safety of their students and the potential danger the fast-spreading delta variant could pose for their communities and families,” DiMauro said. “We know that mask wearing has been scientifically proven to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID infections and should remain a key tool for avoiding further, unnecessary learning disruptions.”
Several school districts and colleges have already implemented policies related to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Cleveland State is mandating on-campus students to get vaccinated, Ohio State is asking students and staff to report their vaccination status and many private colleges are requiring it as well, including Ohio Wesleyan.