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OEA Statement on Latest Mask Wearing Guidance

[July 28, 2021] Our schools should be the safest places in our communities and no one wants a safe return to in-person learning this fall more than the 120,000 members of the Ohio Education Association. However, the virus’ newest variants – especially the Delta variant – are proving to be more lethal to young people and our students than the initial versions of the virus.

As a result, our educators, students, parents, school districts and communities are being forced to grapple with how best to limit the potential lethality of these new variants.

“Educators want nothing more than to return to full, in-person instruction this fall,” said OEA President Scott DiMauro. “But we want to make sure that when we do, we do so safely for our kids and communities.”

OEA urges communities and school districts to use every tool at their disposal to ensure the safe return to in-person instruction this fall. The recent spike in COVID infections, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, is especially concerning because the variant is more deadly to students and a youth vaccine has not yet been approved for students younger than 12. This means that most students will remain unvaccinated, for at least the first half of the coming school year.

However, that doesn’t mean our schools have no protection from these new variants. The science is clear that masking, appropriate ventilation, social distancing, handwashing, and vaccinations — all in combination — is the best way to keep students, families, and educators safe and keep community transmission rates low.

“Our members’ primary concern is for the health and safety of their students and the potential danger the fast-spreading Delta variant could pose for their communities and families,” DiMauro said. “We know that mask wearing has been scientifically proven to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID infections and should remain a key tool for avoiding further, unnecessary learning disruptions.”

DiMauro urged leaders to follow science, not political rhetoric when making these decisions.

“Local decisions about mask wearing need to be made based on science and not politics,” DiMauro said. “These decisions should made solely in the best interest of protecting the health of educators, students, and their families.”

DiMauro is especially concerned about politicians limiting the ability of school districts and communities to protect their kids from these new, more lethal COVID-19 strains.

“The best way to ensure a safe return to in-person learning this fall is to follow the science and listen to the medical experts.’ DiMauro said. “We can’t let politicians substitute their political ambitions for public safety when our kids’ health and safety are at stake.”

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2021 Press Releases