Week in Review > Week in Review – 06/26/2020Posted by Vanessa Gabriele on June 26th, 2020
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 40 child care centers across Ohio to enjoin the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) from continuing to enforce its May 29 public health order limiting the number of children the facilities can legally supervise. “The May 29 order severely reduces the number of children each adult staff member may supervise and the number of children who may be in the same room at any one time, even though the statutes governing day cares expressly protect their right to care for larger groups of children,” the 1851 Center said in a news release.
The Ohio Department of Health reported Thursday the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since mid-April, an increase of 892 over the day before, the fourth-highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic. Gov. Mike DeWine said the increase is not attributable to increased testing, according to analysts he’s consulted. While cases were up substantially, the numbers of deaths, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions were below their respective 21-day averages. “In essence, this is the highest number, in a sense, that we’ve had,” DeWine said. “It is important to note that in today’s case increase, almost 60 percent of these individuals are in the 20-49-year-old range.”
Management and union officials at Ohio’s largest school districts detailed Monday their concerns with the academic, financial and practical challenges of returning to classrooms in the fall after spring’s hasty interruption of in-person learning because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those issues range from how federal coronavirus funding will be distributed to the need to find and buy thousands and thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer. Leaders from the Ohio 8 Coalition of Urban Schools held a videoconference Monday to discuss topics including federal funding, curriculum and testing, and the logistics of social distancing and other hygiene practices.
School management groups expressed appreciation Wednesday for the deference to local control found in Sen. Matt Huffman’s (R-Lima) reopening legislation but declined to offer their support for the bill, saying sometimes statewide rules are justified. Teachers unions opposed the bill. Huffman’s legislation, SB320, would leave reopening decisions solely to local school officials for the coming academic year and expressly prohibit other public officials from preventing reopening, ordering closings or requiring adoption of health safety measure and guidelines for addressing COVID-19.
The Senate Education Committee discussed but did not act Wednesday on a potential amendment to school safety legislation that would stem funding losses for online dropout prevention and recovery schools (DOPR) next academic year, prompted by the imminent closing of one Southwest Ohio school. Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) said Greater Ohio Virtual School’s leadership is likely to vote to shut down operations soon absent assistance, but nearby school leaders in Warren County support the school and want it to be able to remain open.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) gave the go-ahead Thursday for nine local school building projects that would allow districts to get a head start on portions of larger plans using their own money, with the promise of having the state kick in funding once they become eligible for the traditional Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP). The commission also approved the state’s contribution toward the new stadium for the Crew SC soccer team in Columbus.
Legislation providing $300 million to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and $255 million to the Ohio Public Works Commission (PWC) is headed to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk following the Senate’s concurrence with House amendments to SB4 (Rulli-Kunze). The OFCC will be able to use the new capital funds during the FY21-22 biennium to support school construction and renovation projects. Wednesday’s Senate session also included passage of SB288 (Gavarone), which clarifies that student athletes can wear religious apparel while participating in sports.
House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) Wednesday joined Democratic lawmakers to urge House Republican leaders to call the chamber back into session to address several critical issues facing the state, including health issues and the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism and police reform, questions surrounding the November election and looming state budget shortfalls.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed four bills into law Friday, June 19:
– HB164 (Ginter), regarding pandemic flexibility for schools and student religious expression.
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