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Gov. Mike DeWine says he hopes to have every child in Ohio back in schools by March 1 in interview with 3News

DeWine told 3News' Maureen Kyle that schools must agree to return to in-person learning in order for employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — During his COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine stated that among his goals of the first two phases of the COVID-19 vaccination roll out is to help get kids in Ohio back to in-person school learning by March 1. He also announced that the vaccination of those in Phase 1B -- which includes all teachers and staff at K-12 schools planning to reopen for in-person learning -- will begin in approximately two weeks.

In an interview with 3News' Maureen Kyle on Wednesday, DeWine laid out his plan for how to make this goal of getting kids back in school possible by March 1.

"We're going to send a letter out this week asking schools to sign it if they agree to be open," DeWine explained. "Many schools are still open, they've never shut. Some have been hybrid, others haven't opened at all. But for them to have their employees be eligible for a shot, they're going to have to say that they're going to open up."

The governor says that the reason for the urgency is because there are 'significant consequences' in not having Ohio's kids in schools, citing mental health of students not in class and students falling behind in learning.

However, DeWine stated that the key for his plan will be the state receiving sufficient numbers of the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days and weeks. 

"This is aspirational. This is what our goal is. We are going to try to do that. But everything is dependent upon how much vaccine we get each week," DeWine said. 

During a recent appearance on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday, DeWine admitted that while Ohio has received 529,000 coronavirus vaccines, it has only given out more than 160,000 so far.

"The problem is we don't have enough vaccine," DeWine said to Kyle on Wednesday. "Until we see more streams flowing into Ohio, besides Moderna and Pfizer. We hope the numbers grow from those two. We hope that additional pharmaceutical companies get their vaccine approved so that we move into spring, those numbers (cases and deaths) will go out."

However, because the federal government required Ohio to 'bank the shots,' as DeWine put it, the numbers of doses of vaccines available are misleading. Many are being set aside for the second shot that will be given.

READ: Gov. Mike DeWine tells 3News the limited amount of COVID-19 vaccines are the reason for Ohio's slow rollout

ALSO: Gov. Mike DeWine tells 3News he won't mandate COVID-19 vaccine to Ohio's nursing home workers

You can watch the entire interview with Maureen Kyle and Gov. Mike DeWine in the player below:

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