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Teacher’s union blasts Dewine for relaxing quarantines in Tri-State schools

Union President Melissa Cropper is calling for a statewide mask mandate. “It’s time for Governor DeWine to be a leader.”
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 6:40 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers had strong words on Thursday for Gov. Mike DeWine after his announcement of a new quarantine pilot program in Warren County school districts.

“We shouldn’t be jumping through hoops to avoid common-sense protections against this deadly disease,” OFT President Melissa Cropper said in a statement, adding she is “disappointed and outraged” at the pilot program.

Cropper also called for a statewide mask mandate to keep Ohio students in the classroom.

At issue are quarantine guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health that opponents say are too strict, leading to district-wide shutdowns as healthy students are sent home.

Proponents counter the quarantines are preventative measures required by the delta variant, which can incubate without showing symptoms, is much more transmissible than the original virus and appears to impact children more. They also point to statements from health officials made prior to the start of the school year predicting the quarantines in districts without mask mandates.

Lebanon City Schools, for example, closed down on Wednesday less than a week after vocal opposition at an emergency board meeting torpedoed a new mask policy. The board instead voted to seek a legal determination about altering what requires a quarantine.

A mask mandate is now in effect across the district. Still, the quarantine debate rages on, and DeWine appears to be paying attention.

The pilot program (detailed in a letter from Lebanon’s superintendent here) significantly relaxes ODH’s quarantine guidelines.

A student exposed to the coronavirus can stay in school as long as they wear a mask for seven days and take two rapid tests days apart.

It’s similar, though not identical, to an executive order Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Wednesday incentivizing schools to impose mask mandates by offering relaxed quarantine guidelines.

In Indiana, any district that has a mask mandate in place will no longer have to quarantine close contacts if the contact is not showing symptoms.

Warren County’s pilot program isn’t quite the “either/or” tradeoff that Indiana’s is.

Relaxed quarantine guidelines remain a carrot in Warren County, but Ohio’s stick—student-by-student mask rules that expire after a week— falls far short of Indiana’s district-wide mask mandate.

Tri-State educators have already sounded off against the difficulty of enforcing a student-by-student mask mandate, with some questioning whether it’s even possible.

“It’s time for Governor DeWine to be a leader, protect our students, and keep our schools open by requiring masks in K-12 schools statewide,” Cropper said.

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