by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to offer vaccines to all schools in the state that want it by mid-January in an effort to get children back to in-person learning in districts that want to return.
At his regular news conference Wednesday, DeWine announced new phases of vaccine distribution that included adults in school districts, those 64 years old and older, along with those with severe medical conditions.
“We hope schools will be able to go back,” DeWine said. “One of the concerns that have kept children from being able to go back is you have adults that are exposed to a lot of children throughout the day. What we hope to do is say to schools that if that is what has held you back from going back, then we have an answer for this.”
At the same time, though, DeWine encouraged all school districts in Ohio to extend the holiday break by a week or offer remote learning the first week of return to try to mitigate what he said would likely be significant COVID-19 exposure over the holidays.
“I think that’s a good idea. I would ask schools to take a look at this, and if it would work for them, I would encourage them to do that,” DeWine said. “It’s a great way to create a buffer from the holiday exposure.”
DeWine intends the school vaccine program to be for schools that want to return to full-time, in-person learning. However, he said he is open to discuss those districts in some type of hybrid model.
“What was in our mind was full-time, getting the kids back,” DeWine said. “Schools can make a decision any time to go back. That’s their decision. If a school tells us we want to be back in person, then the people who work in that school will be eligible for the vaccine. When that kickoff date is, we don’t know yet. “
The school vaccine plan is an adjustment to the state’s original idea of the order of vaccine distribution.
“These people are very valuable and are being moved up because we want our kids in school. If a school doesn’t want to do go back then there’s no reason to [do their vaccines],” DeWine said.
The state reported 7,790 news cases over the most recent 24-hour period, significantly lower than the latest 21-day average. However, the 109 deaths, 431 hospitalizations and 52 ICU admissions were well above the same 21-day average.
“The good news is we have the vaccine. The bad news is we don’t have enough of it,” DeWine said.
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J.D. Davidson is a regular contributor to The Center Square. He is veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas.