Governor Mike DeWine, in conjunction with Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, has announced additional steps they are taking to halt the spread of COVID-19. These steps include an order, issued by Dr. Acton, that bans all public gatherings that exceed 100 people such as concerts, sporting events and theater performances. The ban does not include several categories including health care settings, religious gatherings, typical employment settings, shopping centers, restaurants, sporting events which restrict those in attendance to participants and immediate family, and facilities that support transit such as airports or bus terminals. Visitors to nursing homes are also prohibited. Lori Criss, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will be prohibiting all visitors to the state’s psychiatric hospitals. Essential personnel who must come into those facilities will be required to be screened for fever prior to entering the facilities. At this time, day care centers are not being closed.
Governor DeWine is asking that all employers look to see how employees can use technology to perform work functions remotely. This includes asking that local JFS offices determine how they can reduce the number of individuals who must meet in person in order to obtain benefits. The state has requested a waiver from the federal government so that routine inspections of facilities can be postponed.
Governor DeWine has also ordered a 3-week spring break for all Ohio school children including those enrolled in private schools. During the time of closure, local districts will have the flexibility to decide how they allow access to their buildings, whether they use distance learning to continue to educate their pupils, how meals will continue to be provided for students who qualify and what type, if any, disinfecting/cleaning the district buildings will undergo prior to students returning to the buildings. State leaders will reevaluate the end date of this spring break over the next couple of weeks, which means the break could be extended. At this time, there have been no decisions made regarding mandated state testing and whether it will be cancelled, or if there will be changes to how test results are used on school district report cards. These conversations are ongoing at ODE.
This situation remains extremely fluid. Additional closings and restrictions should be expected as the state continues to respond to the spread of COVID-19.