CLEVELAND — Winter break is nearing its end and Ohio continues to see overflowing ICUs and record-breaking COVID numbers.
The numbers have left many parents wondering: what's next for schools?
"We want our kids back in school," Governor Mike Dewine said recently during a press conference.
DeWine's statement was followed by a plea for districts across the state to require students to mask up as the omicron variant rages.
"Kids in school, when they are masked can remain safe. And so again, based on resources, based on local situations, there will probably be schools that will be able to go back," Dr. Claudia Hoyen with Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital said.
Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan has regular conversations with districts that weigh not only the health of everyone in the schools, but also the feasibility of having in-person learning.
"We need to understand that if they have a lot of staff out for COVID or other reasons, they've got to think about staffing, they've got to think about cases or outbreaks that are occurring between students or staff," Allan said.
Limited staff could mean a brief return to virtual learning and Allan wants districts to be prepared in case that happens.
Earlier this week, Cleveland Metropolitan School District announced that they will be virtual for the first week back from break. Meanwhile, North Ridgeville and Avon Lake City Schools have announced a mask mandate through at least January 28.
"We continue to encourage 100 percent masking in the school environment, doing what they can to promote vaccination among their staff, messages back to families about vaccination of kids," Allan said.
Allan says Cuyahoga sits at a 23 percent vaccination rate among children.
Dr. Hoyen encourages all parents to have the vaccination discussion with their child's pediatrician.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health anticipates a meeting next week with schools throughout the county to discuss all things COVID.
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