As COVID-19 cases jump among children, pediatricians plead with state for mask mandates in schools

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio’s children’s hospitals spoke out Tuesday, warning of the dangers the COVID-19 delta variant poses to the state’s children.

“These are numbers that we didn’t see at the start of this pandemic, so COVID has clearly changed with the delta variant, and we’re seeing sicker kids every day,” said Dr. Adam Mezoff, Chief Medical Officer at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

This spike in cases among young Ohioans coincided with the reopening of schools. The office of Governor Mike DeWine estimates that approximately 47 percent of Ohio students are under a school mask mandate.

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DeWine’s press secretary said the governor still doesn’t believe there is a need for a statewide mandatory school mask.

“I think the governor should make that decision,” said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT). “It puts school administrators in a really tough position if you have communities that are divided on whether to wear a mask or not.”

Both OFT and the Ohio Education Association (OEA) are calling on schools and DeWine to mandate masks. Without a mandate, they worry that students will have to quarantine or switch to distance learning.

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“We want personal learning to continue unabated,” said OEA President Scott DiMauro. “But without widespread student vaccinations, the only way to make that safe for students is to temporarily require masks in schools.”

The DeWine office said it plans to continue to provide the best information possible to school administrators and parents so they can make decisions.

“It’s really clear to us as pediatricians that the risk of not wearing a mask for your child at school is greater than the risk of wearing a mask and for some reason we prioritize children who don’t have a mask. over children who don’t get COVID,” said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital chief of staff.

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