Week in Review > Week in Review 08-27-2021Posted by Buckeye Association of School Administrators on August 27th, 2021
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Monday, potentially leading to an increase in vaccination rates and making it easier for schools and universities to implement vaccine mandates. The Pfizer vaccine, which will now be marketed as Comirnaty, is the first vaccine to receive full FDA approval for use against COVID-19. It first received emergency use authorization (EUA) in December 2020 and applied for full approval in May. The vaccine was fully approved for people 16 years of age and older, and remains available under EUA for those 12 to 15 years old.
Gov. Mike DeWine, who has been vocal in pushing for full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, reacted to the news in a Tweet, writing “The @US_FDA granting full approval to Pfizer’s #COVID19 vaccine for those 16+ is good news! With this strong endorsement, we hope to see many more Ohioans get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. #InThisTogetherOhio #GetTheShot”
According to the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) coronavirus cases in Ohio kept increasing over the week with on 5,395 COVID-19 cases reported in the last 24 hours on Thursday. That’s the highest number of daily cases since Jan. 28, when the state reported 5,432. ODH also reported 182 hospitalizations and 15 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in the last 24 hours, both of which were higher than their respective 21-day averages of 129 and 11.
The State Board of Education affirmed its leadership’s recommendation Monday by appointing Stephanie Siddens, a longtime Ohio Department of Education (ODE) official, as the interim superintendent, but with some debate about the role of the board’s strategic plan that showcased divisions among board members. Siddens is a 15-year veteran of ODE who serves as senior executive director of the Center for Student Supports. She now is in line to become interim superintendent once Superintendent Paolo DeMaria retires near the end of September, replacing Deputy Superintendent John Richard. The board had voted to name Richard interim superintendent, but he soon after announced plans to leave the department shortly after DeMaria does. Board President Laura Kohler said last week she and Vice President Charlotte McGuire intended to recommend Siddens.
As the General Assembly’s summer recess nears an end, educators from across Ohio joined together Tuesday evening to speak out against two bills pending in the Ohio Statehouse that would ban the teaching of “divisive concepts.” HB322 (Jones) and HB327 (Grendell-Fowler Arthur) had their first hearings in June in the House State and Local Government Committee. Both bills would ban the teaching of certain “divisive concepts” dealing with race and sex in public schools, though HB327 is the broader of the two — applying also to public higher education institutions, political subdivisions and state agencies.
Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) said his proposal is necessary to combat “critical race theory” when he introduced the bill in May, and both bills have been referenced in many of the discussions on critical race theory over the summer. During the virtual “Speak Out for Honesty in Education” event hosted by Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), about 20 current and former educators expressed fears about how the bills would affect education in Ohio if they were passed.
The House Health Committee Tuesday heard more than four hours of testimony and received testimony from more than 1,000 witnesses on both sides of legislation that would bar vaccine mandates by public and private entities as hundreds of supporters of the bill protested vaccine mandates outside of the Statehouse. What happens next with HB248 (Gross) is up to Republican leadership, Chairman Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) indicated, saying he hopes to be able to move forward with amendments to the bill when the House reconvenes next month. House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) had announced Monday that the bill would be paused after Tuesday’s hearing as they discuss next steps. The bill has been controversial since its introduction, with proponents calling for personal freedom and the ability to make their own choices when it comes to taking the vaccine, while opponents said it will hamper the ability to respond and control infectious diseases, especially at a time when the Delta variant of COVID-19 has led to a spike in cases across the country, including in Ohio.
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