The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
As plans form for the vaccination of school personnel, Gov. Mike DeWine said an overwhelming majority of districts have agreed to have at least partial in-person instruction in place by March 1.
Public school districts were surveyed by the state asking whether they would be willing and able to conduct in-person classes by March 1 in order to receive the vaccinations.
“I’m glad to report, as of today, 96% of public school districts have committed to returning to school at least partially in person by March 1,” DeWine said. “Ninety-six percent so far have told us yes, we’re willing to do this; yes, we can do that.”
Educational service centers, local service providers for school districts, are partnered with districts and will communicate with them this week to confirm final plans, according to DeWine. Those plans will include the decision from schools as to whether they will partner with a retail pharmacy (secured by the state) or with their local health department for vaccine administration.
Those vaccinations, which will be given to adult personnel in “closed clinics” specifically for staff, and distribution should begin starting Feb. 1.
“That does not mean every school will get it on Feb. 1,” DeWine said. The distribution process has been slow so far, with vaccine amounts coming in far lower than the amount of people set to be vaccinating in the state’s plan.
State education advocates, including the Ohio Federation of Teachers, support the March 1 goal, but maintain their previous stance that making in-person instruction a pre-requisite to vaccination isn’t sensible.
“The bottom line is that withholding the vaccine should not be used as a threat to get schools to open,” OFT President Melissa Cropper wrote in an email sent to members. “We believe that the governor should be working with educators to determine safe opening conditions and then trusting educators to make the decision about when those conditions have been met.”
DeWine said more details about the K-12 rollout will be released before the vaccinations start going to schools. His next press conference is scheduled for Thursday.