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Teachers union president calls on DeWine to mandate masks in schools

The president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers has called on the state’s governor, Mike DeWine, to mandate masks in K-12 school setting, as cases in the state continue to rise.

Masks have remained optional in the state since the school year began. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends universal mask wearing in school settings.

“The safety and education of our students is our highest priority,” OFT president Melissa Cropper said Thursday.

“We haven’t even passed Labor Day and we already have thousands of Ohio students, teachers and staff who have missed school due to COVID-19 infection or exposure. This has already led to school closures in multiple school districts. We need to keep our students in the classroom, and the best way to do that is with a statewide mask mandate.”

On Wednesday, DeWine announced a pilot program that will exempt students from being quarantined, regardless of whether masks or other mitigation efforts are in place.

Cropper took issue with this decision.

“We’re disappointed and outraged at Governor DeWine’s latest action,” she said. “When the Governor realized that schools are unable to stay open due to COVID-19 exposure and quarantine guidelines, he decided to initiate a pilot program aimed at relaxing the quarantine policy rather than take action to reduce exposure to COVID-19.

We shouldn’t be jumping through hoops to avoid common sense protections against this deadly disease.”

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.”

The Ohio Federation of Teachers is composed of 54 local unions representing active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff and public employees.

In Lawrence County, six of seven public school districts are requiring masks for students. Masks are required on school buses in all districts.