Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that all Ohio schools will have a three-week spring break – starting next week – as precaution against the spread of coronavirus.
Ohio K-12 schools will be closed from 3:30 p.m. Monday through at least April 3, DeWine said. The order applies to public, private and charter schools.
“We have to do this if we are going to slow this down,” DeWine said during his daily coronavirus update.
DeWine acknowledged that unless a child has a medical problem, the risk of death for a child from COVID-19 is not very high. But he noted that children can be carriers.
“We are announcing today that children in the state will have an extended spring break. The spring break will be the duration of three weeks and we will review it at the end of that,” DeWine said.
This action for K-12 schools is in addition to suspension of in-person classes announced earlier by colleges and universities.
“We understand as much as we can, everyone has a different circumstance,” DeWine said of concerns parents might have for suddenly changing the school schedules.
“We have compassion for that, but we have a responsibility to save lives. We have to take the action that is the best informed action based on what the experts tell us to save lives.”
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted added: “If you look at employers of this state, many are already taking action. … This is an unprecedented time. … Employers have to understand the demands on their workforce as it relates to families.”
DeWine’s announcement came on a day in which he confirmed a fifth coronavirus case in Ohio, that of a Trumbull County man. Three others were reported earlier in Cuyahoga County, and one in Stark County.
DeWine said he understood there were many unanswered questions.
“We’re going to try to use common sense. We are all in this together. No one is going to impose a crazy regulation that doesn’t make sense,” the governor said. “This is a crisis.”
As for the details, such as normally mandated tests, DeWine said: “If we can’t have testing this year, we will not have testing this year. The world will not come to an end.”
Likewise, Ohio Schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria later Thursday pledged to work with “Gov. DeWine, the legislature, and other stakeholders to provide as much flexibility and latitude as necessary.”
School districts such as Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Chagrin Falls and North Olmsted before DeWine’s announcement, had closed already canceled classes for Tuesday to allow for staff coronavirus planning. That will now be the first off day for all schools in Ohio.
That changed after the governor’s order. North Olmsted and Chagrin Falls moved up their closings to Friday. Cleveland Heights-University Heights did so for Monday. Among other schools in the area closing Friday were Twinsburg, Vermilion and Maple Heights.
The Ohio Education Association, a union representing 122,000 Ohio teachers and staff, praised the governor’s leadership.
“OEA commends Gov. DeWine’s decision to close schools beginning next week. Although we have not yet seen the official order, OEA understands the sacrifice this is going to entail for all Ohioans but agrees this is the best action at this time,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said in a prepared statement.