MANSFIELD -- Daycare centers in Ohio may re-open on May 31, Gov. Mike DeWine said during a press briefing Thursday afternoon about developments with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Daycare centers must have a reduced number of children and perform intensified cleaning and hand-washing practices, the governor said, also announcing several other re-opening dates, including gyms and fitness centers.
Re-opening of daycare operations is something many state residents have been asking about as they return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Moving forward, childcare is going to look different for children, parents and teachers as long as COVID-19 is around," DeWine said. "But we must get this right or we run the risk of exposing more individuals."
The governor said his goal is to have the safest childcare system in the country. Daycares around the state have been closed since March 25.
He said his desire to have a system "that nurtures the health and continued growth and development of our children and one that protects the health and safety of our childcare workers and teachers."
He said Ohio will utilize $60 million in federal CARES Act funds to provide re-opening grants to all Ohio childcare providers.
"This includes family childcare, childcare centers, and both publicly-funded and private providers," the governor said. He said more information about the program would be posted on the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services website.
Under the guidelines for re-opening, childcare providers must operate under reduced staff to child ratios and maximum group size limitations at all times.
-- One child care staff member per four infants with no more than six children in the room.
-- One child care staff member per six toddlers with no more than six children in the room.
-- One child care staff member per nine preschool children with no more than nine children in the room.
-- One child care staff member per nine school-age children with no more than nine children in the room.
Employees must perform daily symptom assessment and centers must require employees to stay home if symptomatic.
In other re-opening announcements Thursday, DeWine said:
-- campgrounds may re-open May 21 if they can meet safety protocols.
-- gyms and fitness centers can re-open May 26 if they can meet safety protocols.
-- low-contact and non-contact sports can resume May 26 if they meet safety protocols. DeWine said high-contact sports are still being considered.
-- horse racing can resume May 22 if safety protocols are met. Spectators will not be permitted. DeWine said that doesn't casinos and racinos will remain closed for now.
-- pools can re-open May 26 if they are regulated by local health departments. He said this doesn't include water parks or amusement parks, sites he said will be addressed in the near future. He said the CDC has advised there is no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas. DeWine said safety protocols for pools would be posted soon.
There was no announcement regarding movie theaters and performance venues.
The state reported there have been 26,357 positive tests for coronavirus with 1,534 deaths and 4,718 cumulative hospitalizations. That includes 636 new confirmed cases and 51 additional deaths from Wednesday.