COLUMBUS, OH — Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday the ongoing surge of COVID-19 spread in Ohio puts in-person schooling “at stake” if the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, which set new records this week, continue to rise.
“We can turn this heat down. And we can get back to a simmer of this virus instead of a flame starting to really coming up,” DeWine said at his press briefing. “That flame is a direct threat to keeping our kids in schools.” The governor reported grim numbers Tuesday, sharing 216 new COVID-19 hospitalizations occurred in the last 24 hours, the state’s largest daily increase so far in the pandemic, while the total number of hospitalized patients soared to a new record of 1,221 Ohioians receiving hospital care for the virus. “We know as this virus rises, and really there’s this red tide going all the way across Ohio, that a lot of things are at stake. Peoples lives are at stake. We worry about our hospitals starting to fill up. We worry about long-term damage that people might have,” he said. “But as I go through the statistics today… I want to ask you to think about something else that is clearly at stake, and that is whether our kids can be at school.” Due to the worsening spread of the virus, some schools have switched from in-person learning to hybrid models, or switched from hybrid models to fully remote learning. In the last two weeks, 16 districts have scaled back their learning models, DeWine said. DeWine said it should concern all Ohioans that so many schools are online, an environment that is less conducive to effective learning for many students, especially for Ohio children in poor households. Asked if he might take statewide action on schools to slow the spread of the virus, DeWine said there is a better option: Everyone wearing a mask. For now, he will leave decisions to the schools, he said, but he expects more districts will scale back in-person learning if the discouraging trends continue.