COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he isn't prepared to issue a mask mandate. Even if he wanted to, he doesn't believe he currently has the ability to do so.
But that hasn't stopped DeWine from encouraging schools to adopt their own as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
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"We have no plans to mandate masks," DeWine said at a press briefing on Wednesday. "But with what is going on today, if people want their kids to stay in school and schools not have to close down -- not because of what the state says or medical people say -- but they want their kids to be able to stay in school, so the teachers will be able to teach, kids will not be out a lot, bus drivers will not be out a lot, the best way to do that is to wear a mask.
"I would urge everyone to think about, as kids go back to school on Monday, parents, have your child wear a mask. I know people don't want to do that, but that is the safest thing. And for school superintendents, school boards, school administrators, please consider putting a mask mandate on if you don't already have it on. At least for a few weeks while we are at this great, great, great, great surge."
As for why DeWine won't issue a mask mandate of his own, the Governor noted, "we don't really have the practical ability to put on a statewide mask order at this point." DeWine's comment came in reference to Senate Bill 22, which gives the state's General Assembly the ability to be able to reject any of the governor’s or health department’s health orders.
"I don't think it's appropriate at this point. We have the vaccine. We have the tools," DeWine said. "But I would really urge schools to do what children's hospitals have said today."
Asked about the announcement from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that it will be operating remotely when it returns to class next week, DeWine made it clear that it was his preference for schools to institute mask mandates instead.
"I think none of us want to see kids out of school," DeWine said. "We want kids in school. I won't go through all the reasons we want kids in schools, but it's been articulated very well. It's been particularly articulated by our pediatricians and particularly articulated by our children's hospitals. So what I would prefer is that people listen to our children's hospitals in Ohio. And what the children's hospitals in Ohio are saying is wear a mask."
You can watch the full video of DeWine's press briefing in the video player below.