Ohio releases COVID guidance for schools, top doctor says masks ‘strongly recommended’ for unvaccinated


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Education released guidance Tuesday on COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools.

Read the full text of the guidance from the Ohio Department of Education here.

Some guidelines include promoting vaccinations for all staff and eligible students, masks on school buses, improved ventilation, on-site vaccination clinics and more.

Ohio’s chief medical officer talked about the upcoming school year on Monday, including the return of facemasks for those who are not vaccinated.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff of the Ohio Department of Health said the recommendations are three-layered. Those layers are:

  1. Strongly recommend that eligible students and staff be vaccinated against COVID-19
  2. Strongly recommend that those who are unvaccinated wear facemasks
  3. Improved ventilation and wide availability of hand-sanitizer

“We strongly recommend those who are unvaccinated consistently wear masks,” Vanderhoff said.

The vaccine has been authorized for those 12 and older.

“I think it’s very clear what our recommendations would be for most third grade classrooms. They’re not eligible for vaccination,” Vanderhoff said.

He said the recommendations do not include any mandates.

Masks are recommended when indoors and when proper distancing isn’t possible outdoors.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended masks in schools for anyone older than 2 regardless of vaccination status unless other conditions prohibit their use. On Friday, Columbus City Schools said they would require masking to begin the school year.

“Issuing this guidance will allow school districts to have the flexibility and support they need to provide access to in-person learning five days a week,” Vanderhoff said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended masks in schools for anyone older than two, regardless of vaccination status.

“We believe that the recommendations we are issuing are essential to the health of Ohio’s youth and the success of the coming school year,” Vanderhoff said.

Children will be required to wear a mask on a bus, regardless of vaccination status. That rule comes from the Centers for Disease Control.

The FDA could have vaccines available to children under age 12 sometime this fall.

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