The coronavirus pandemic and related disruptions to commerce turned a quarter billion dollar surplus into a $1.1 billion shortfall in the space of four months, preliminary revenue figures from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) showed Tuesday. Taxes generated $22.6 billion in FY20 compared to the $23.7 billion projected, a 4.6 percent drop. The state brought in 3.7 percent or $866.4 million less in FY20 than it did in FY19.
With new expenses for pandemic precautions and falling income from mandates for smaller classes, child care providers are facing a crisis that could see nearly half of them close absent state and federal help, child care advocate and providers said Thursday. In Cleveland, there are 16,000 fewer early childhood education and after-school program slots available, according to PRE4CLE, which works to expand the number of Cleveland children in high quality child care and early learning programs.
A new color-coded, four-tier warning system for reporting indicators of COVID-19 prevalence county-by-county should help local and state officials target their resources and policies in fighting the virus, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday, July 2. The new Public Health Advisory System will look at trends across seven data indicators to sort counties into categories of yellow (lowest risk), orange, red and purple (highest risk.) No county is at the purple alert level now. By week's end, a total of 12 counties were in the "red alert" category: Butler, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery, Pickaway, Summit, Trumbull and Wood.
That classification also means that, as of the order Gov. Mike DeWine issued on Tuesday, residents of those "red alert" counties must also use face masks.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced short-term "return to play" guidelines for sports. The guidelines were developed in conjunction with ODH and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The guidance goes through July 15 for contact sport competitions. During this period, practices and open gyms with another team or club and inter-club/team play are also permitted as long as all teams involved agree to comply with the requirements set forth in the current ODH order.
The state released guidance Thursday for schools to resume in-person classes in the fall but with health precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Mike DeWine emphasized the decision-making authority of local school officials in implementing the guidelines, and also the importance of returning children to classrooms. The guidelines are based on five general principles:
- Vigilant assessment of symptoms, including daily temperature checks, requirements that students and staff who are sick stay home, and development of a testing protocol with local health authorities.
- Frequent handwashing, as well as provision of hand sanitizer in high traffic areas.
- Thorough cleaning of schools to prevent spread of the virus via common surfaces.
- Social distancing, with a goal of maintaining at least six feet between people as often as possible in all areas.
- Mask use, including development of a face covering policy by every district and a general mandate that school staff wear masks.
A chain of southwest Ohio charter schools is owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by its management company and board members, Auditor Keith Faber's office found in a series of recent reports. Audits released last week for four Richard Allen charter schools found overpayments to management company Institute of Management Resources in amounts ranging from $15,686 to $614,870, for a total of $852,618 as of the end of FY17, when the management contract was cancelled.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Board of Directors dismissed its executive director Monday evening, replacing Jerry Snodgrass with Interim Executive Director Bob Goldring effective immediately. OHSAA did not offer any reasons for Snodgrass' ouster, and the former executive director was publicly answering questions and communicating with coaches and administrators on Twitter over the weekend and on Monday.
Health and education officials emphasized the importance of reopening schools in the fall for the wellbeing of children during a White House summit Tuesday, though they said that should include plans for reacting to local COVID-19 outbreaks with temporary closings or other responses. The role of schools in nutrition and health services, the social and emotional effects of prolonged separation from peers and teachers, and the racial and socio-economic disparities laid bare by the pandemic were among reasons mentioned as necessitating a push to reopen school buildings.
The Ohio Supreme Court considered Wednesday how to judge the response of educators to reports of bullying under Ohio's immunity statutes for political jurisdictions. Justices heard oral arguments in Toledo Public Schools' (TPS) challenge to a Sixth District Court of Appeals decision that opened the possibility of liability for educators in the saga of A.R., an early entrant to kindergarten at DeVeaux Elementary School, and S, a classmate alleged to have repeatedly teased and bullied A.R.