The Board of Directors of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio’s largest labor union for educators, voted unanimously last week to adopt a position statement supporting the immediate suspension of all in-person learning in the state until January 11.
The OEA released the statement on Monday.
The document calls for state leaders and educational institutions to “reset,” “restart,” “re-prioritize,” and “resource” in order to “ensure that the needs of Ohio’s students, educators and communities are met.”
The “reset” consists of immediate suspension of in-person learning – instead calling on schools to either deliver remote instruction or suspend learning until 10 days after New Year’s Day. The date reflects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance shortening quarantine from 14 days to between 7 – 10 days.
“Due to the extraordinary and dangerous spike in COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the state since early November and anticipated additional increase in case numbers arising from social gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday” the OEA states the suspension is necessary.
The Lancet first published that the COVID kills in an average of 18.5 days. According to Ohio’s COVID dashboard, statewide deaths peaked on April 28 – when 64 Ohioans tragically died. Looking back 19 days earlier, the number of positive COVID tests was 373. However, at that time, Ohio was testing only the sickest patients. The second worst day for deaths in Ohio occurred on November 20, when 59 Ohioans died. Looking back to November 1, the total number of positive cases recorded in the state was 3,469.
Fortunately, the tenfold increase in cases did not translate into a tenfold spike in deaths.
The “restart” calls for schools to receive a sign-off from the local health departments, not “politicians.” The sign-off would be on, according to the statement, CDC school safety requirements. However, the safety requirements accompanying the position statement are lengthy and contain guidance from not only the CDC but also the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Pages 3-8 of the document contain the proposed checklists.
Without the sign-off, the ODE demands that instruction be fully remote.
To “re-prioritize” ODE demands Ohio officials do whatever it takes to slow the spread of COVID and diminish the impact on education delivery. The OEA calls for continued masking, limits on crowds and the increase in testing and tracing in each school district – and goes on to announce full support for the current authoritarian power of Governor DeWine and the ODH to deal with the virus.
The re-prioritization extends to the “closure of non-essential businesses and services that are known to increase the risk of community spread of the virus.”
Pertaining to the initiative to “resource” the educational ecosystem, the statement calls for the federal and state government to provide support to students, families, schools and workers until a vaccine is available and the spread of COVID stopped – including “subsidizing local boards of health, and providing unemployment and health insurance benefits for every worker and small business owner impacted by COVID related shutdowns and restrictions.”
On Monday, Governor DeWine updated Ohioans during his COVID briefing on the number of districts and students that are currently learning in-person, remotely, on a hybrid plan (in-person and remotely) and that are closed. Currently less than 30% of Ohio students are in-person five days a week. The DeWine team tweeted the breakout during the presser:
Schools: Most students today are going to school remotely. Only 29% of students are going to school fully in-person. pic.twitter.com/SmM95kcL4W
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) December 7, 2020
However, the Governor neither acknowledged the OEA position statement nor indicated his position on what he may or may not do following the upcoming Christmas, New Year, holiday break.
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