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Saying there's 'not enough data,' DeWine punts on reopening schools and sports

DeWine hinted that he's considering further restrictions on bars and restaurants.
Mike DeWine 07022020
Gov. Mike DeWine during the state coronavirus update on Thursday, July 2, 2020.

COLUMBUS — When asked how Ohio’s mounting cases will affect school reopenings and fall sports, Gov. Mike DeWine was short on answers during Tuesday’s state briefing, but hinted that further restrictions might be coming. 

So far in July, the state has added 33,673 new confirmed cases — that’s more than 40 percent of the state’s total, which reached 81,896 on Tuesday. 

Governors in nearby states facing case surges have scaled back their reopenings. 

On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear ordered bars to close and restaurants to reduce seating capacity to 25 percent. The decision follows record-breaking coronavirus case totals reported in the last few weeks.

DeWine said on Tuesday that the state is considering a similar move, and is looking into the role of Ohio's bars in virus spread. 

He had a similar response when pressed about Ohio schools. 

When a reporter asked if he will respond to the state’s July coronavirus surge by restricting which counties can open schools, DeWine said, “There’s not enough data yet to make any kind of call like that.”

Local leaders disagree. 

On Tuesday, Columbus Public Schools announced it would start the school year completely online. Youngstown City Schools announced earlier this month it plans to do the same. 

DeWine did, however, announce an option for working parents who live in school districts that decide to go virtual — Ohio childcare centers can return to normal class sizes.

Ratios of children to caretakers had been reduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when daycares reopened May 31. Daycares were given federal CARES Act subsidies to make up for lost income caused by reduced class sizes. 

Daycares will have the option keeping subsidies and maintaining lower classroom ratios or returning to normal ratios, DeWine tweeted. 

The decision is a no-brainer for Mike Rawl, executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown. 

The JCC has been receiving a small subsidy, but the money did not offset the additional costs associated with reduced enrollment. Rawl was forced to increase tuition. He hopes the policy change announced Tuesday will enable him to lower the price of childcare to what it was before the pandemic.

"We would much rather have a lower tuition and serve more children," said Rawl.

During the school year, the JCC operates early childhood care for children as young as six weeks old and before and after school care for school-age children. With school districts announcing plans to start out the year online, Rawl is preparing to provide a brand-new service — childcare and virtual learning supervision for school-age children.

In collaboration with sister organization Akiva Academy, Rawl plans to provide workstations and academic assistance for children attending school online.

Usually, about 50 children are enrolled in the JCC's before and after school program.

"We have space, if it's needed, to double or triple our number," he said. 

Jess Hardin

About the Author: Jess Hardin

Jess Hardin is a reporter for Mahoning Matters. She grew up in Pittsburgh and last worked at The Vindicator. Jess graduated from Georgetown University.
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