The COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted so many schedules, agendas, and events, including but not limited to schooling. This has certainly got to be the worst disruption to the education sector since time immemorial. Considering the previous academic year was filled with a lot of uncertainties, the 2021/2022 school calendar year promises to be better albeit starting up a bit roughly. This would majorly be due to better prevention practices, social distancing, and ultimately vaccination. The Ohio government has also requested that certain prevention practices and controls be set in place by schools.
On March 16, 2020, schools in Ohio closed, and they remained closed for the remainder of the school year. Early in June, it was announced that schools would reopen, but the state was working on guidelines to ensure this possibility. These guidelines tagged ‘Reset and Restart’ were released in July and modified in August 2020 to enable schools to develop their reopening plans.
Many people and schools were against the closure for reasons such as that
- School-aged children are at low risk of COVID – 19;
- Closing and opening and of schools would have effects on the economy;
- Closing schools is not an effective practice in mitigating the spread of the virus;
- A few also complained of the digital divide that would arise from distance learning.
Others who supported closing schools argued the below:
- Evidence from previous pandemics support the closure of schools
- Reopening universities will increase the spread of the virus
Governor Mike DeWine mentioned that it was necessary to reopen schools and he was worried about children who have not learned well online due to accessibility, disability, or other reasons.
In November 2020, the Lucas County Health Board insisted that middle schools and higher classes should resume remote learning between December 4 and January 11, while kids in classes six and below could continue to go to school. This resulted in a lawsuit being filed against them by 3 Christian schools in Northwest Ohio, as they claim the new ruling violated their rights to provide religious education in the classroom, and the new ruling prevents affected students’ from utilizing their first amendment rights. They were subsequently joined by Ohio’s largest Christian public policy organization – The schools and Citizens for community values, as they were in support and believed older students should not be kept from schools.
The suit sought that this order is overthrown, and students allowed for in-class teaching. The schools involved are the Monclova Christian Academy, St. John’s Jesuit High School, and Emmanuel Christian School. They believed that the ruling was unjust as students were prevented from getting SAT prep, but could get into clubs, gyms and casinos. They insisted that the limitation was placed on schools while other avenues that might promote the spread of the virus were not curtailed. Furthermore, they insisted that the decision was way more restrictive than what the governor had advised.
The district court denied the motion on the basis that it was a neutral general ruling. Following another denial, the schools decided to appeal for an injunction at the court of appeals for the sixth circuit and this was granted.
In a similar vein, it is also important to mention that a coalition of public universities is calling on Congress to allocate $97billion in the next coronavirus relief package. This is expected to provide critical support to students, protect jobs, financially stabilize institutions and also strengthen public universities’ response to the pandemic in general. They iterated that previous relief packages were ‘very helpful’ but fell woefully short in mitigating the effects resulting from the pandemic.
Hopefully, the government would pay particular attention to educational institutions especially as affected by the Coronavirus.