Week in Review > Week in Review – 08/07/2020Posted by Vanessa Gabriele on August 07th, 2020
Following a positive COVID-19 test Thursday morning that was a precursor to greeting President Donald Trump, Gov. Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine and several members of his staff all tested negative for COVID-19 in a more sensitive test in Columbus Thursday afternoon. “We feel confident in the results from the Wexner Medical Center. This is the same PCR test that has been used over 1.6 million times in Ohio by labs and hospitals all over the state. The test administered this morning to the governor in Cleveland, as part of the protocol required to meet the president, was an antigen test,” the governor’s office said. He is expected to have a third test on Sunday.
A new bill introduced Tuesday by Sens. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) and Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) would allow local boards of health to reject state health orders during pandemics, epidemics, and events of bio-terrorism. Under SB348 (Schaffer-Roegner), local boards of health could reject orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) or the Ohio director of health during certain periods of emergency, but the board must approve any rejection of the orders by at least two-thirds majority and must have “collaborative consultation” with ODH.
As a number of schools announce plans for an all-virtual start to the year, groups representing dozens of districts recommended some fall sports be delayed at least to October and that spectators be limited or banned, among other ideas they want the state and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) to consider. The Ohio 8 Coalition, representing superintendents and union leaders at major urban districts, and the Alliance of High Quality Education, representing more than 70 districts, issued a joint statement on fall athletics Friday.
The State Board of Education, foregoing its usual August recess, has called a special meeting Monday, Aug. 10 to act on regulations for child care providers. The law calls for alignment between regulations for providers under the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) oversight and those under the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The board voted in June to align its rules to those of ODJFS following the DeWine administration’s release of new standards for child care providers to follow amid the pandemic. Those standards included smaller class sizes and lower staff-to-child ratios. But now, Gov. Mike DeWine said he would restore the prior class size and staff ratio limits.
On the same day practices started for high school sports, the DeWine administration re-issued an order Saturday on sports competitions that appears to give the greenlight for cross county races to proceed later this month but maintains rules on COVID-19 testing that would make compliance for inter-school play in contact sports like football difficult. Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted addressed the development of sports competition guidelines Tuesday, saying Saturday’s re-issuance of the health order on sports is not meant to be the final word on the fall high school season. “We are still working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to finalize that plan, and we’re still considering many options, and we’re trying to keep the options open, because we want student athletes to return to play,” Husted said. A Warren County judge convened a hearing Monday on the request from youth basketball leagues and others to block enforcement of pandemic restrictions on sports competitions.
Most K-12 students will be required to wear a mask if and when they return to school buildings for the start of the academic year, Gov. DeWine said Tuesday. He also announced Ohio’s participation in a multi-state effort to acquire testing supplies. Mask use by children is now recommended by the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the governor noted.
The Ohio Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the issue of whether school employees need police training in order to go armed at work, accepting the appeal of a Butler County school district that sought to allow employees to carry guns in the wake of a 2016 shooting there. The Madison Local Schools Board of Education passed a resolution authorizing employees to carry concealed weapons, but a group of parents sued to block it. The district prevailed at trial, but the Twelfth District Court of Appeals sided with the parents.
Federal agents searched Ohio House offices Friday in connection with the investigation of former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford).
Former House Speaker Larry Householder’s (R-Glenford) initial appearance in federal court following indictment on a racketeering conspiracy charge was delayed Thursday because of his need to find new attorneys, while four associates charged in the case all entered pleas of not guilty. U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz of the Southern District of Ohio presided at the hearing, where Householder adviser Jeff Longstreth and lobbyists Matt Borges, Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark all made appearances via videoconference and entered their pleas via legal counsel. Generation Now, the 501(c)(4) organization alleged to be the main conduit used to receive and spend funds as part of the conspiracy, was not represented, so Litkovitz granted a continuance in the case against it.
Friday’s virtual meeting of the Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus saw members seeking further details about the state’s recent $50 million investment into broadband Internet expansion program BroadbandOhio with the goal of facilitating online schooling, while the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) commented that administration of state tests and accountability measures for online school remain to be determined.
While acknowledging that the Ohio speaker situation has added even more uncertainty to the already precarious situation of dealing with a deadly pandemic, Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) said she’s looking forward to working with House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), particularly on education issues. “We have a new speaker who really, for all intents and purposes, learned he was going to be speaker in the last 24 hours, just as we did. So we don’t know his agenda yet, and we need to get together with him,” Boyd said during a webinar hosted by the Center for Community Solutions on legislative work amid the pandemic, joined by Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard). “Rep. Cupp has been around a long time. He actually served with my mom previously. Just three speakers ago, I served with him on the Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty. We did good work together.”
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