Dewine presser 7-30 (3)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday he would have a formal announcement Tuesday about high school sports this fall. (File photo)

COLUMBUS -- All students in grades K-12 will be required to wear facial coverings when returning to in-classroom instruction, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday.

The governor, during a press conference, cited new recommendations from the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians.

The governor, who previously ordered all teachers and staff to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, had previously recommended masks for students. That recommendation is now an order, with some exceptions, primarily for medical reasons.

"I'm announcing today that we will be issuing an order that reflects this policy statewide. This gives us the best shot to keep Ohio's kids and educators safe and physically in school," DeWine said.

mask letter

The governor said the state is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to distribute two million masks to Ohio schools for use by students and staff.

"We’ll deliver these to regional education service centers serving as our distribution partners so schools and families have access to the resources they for the coming school year," DeWine said.

The governor said he understands the frustrations felt by parents, teachers and schools as districts make decisions regarding online and in-person classes.

"Schools and parents continue to work to make decisions on how to safely go back to school. I know there is frustration by the uncertainty. We cannot know what the next three weeks will bring, let alone the next three months, six months, or nine months of school," he said.

DeWine made no announcements regarding high school sports this fall. He said his office was still working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association on options.

"We understand the uncertainty and anticipation surrounding any forthcoming new guidance and there’s no one who wants to get this accomplished more than me. We are working thoughtfully and aggressively to get these plans finalized," he said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said there was confusion regarding a temporary state order from June 22 regarding contact sports, which was renewed on Aug. 1. The order requires mandatory testing before games and also bans spectators during competitions.

"That temporary order was renewed last week by (by the Ohio Department of Health). There has been some confusion that the renewal of this order represents the plan for return to competition for schools this fall. That is not the case," Husted said.

"We understand the uncertainty and anticipation surrounding any forthcoming new guidance and there’s no one who wants to get this accomplished more than me. We are working thoughtfully and aggressively to get these plans finalized."

County per capita rankings Aug. 4

Data current as of Aug. 4, 2020.

DeWine also unveiled a new ranking of all 88 counties for the last two weeks in terms of positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 population. He said was a way to measure community spread of the virus.

In north central Ohio, Knox County had the highest number at 73.5 per 100,000 residents (45 cases, 61,215 population.). That rate is 35th highest among Ohio's 88 counties. Richland County was at 46.2 (56, 121,324), which is 58th in the state, followed by Ashland County is at 31.8 (17, 53,477), which is 72nd in the state. Morrow County is at 28.6 (10, 34,976), which is 76th. Coshocton County is at 27.3 (10, 36,574), 78th in Ohio.

Early in the briefing, DeWine had a moment of silence for nine people murdered on Aug. 4, 2019, when a gunman opened fire in Dayton's Oregon District.

"Today, we remember them and everyone who was impacted by this shooting, including the police officers who ran toward the gunfire and saved so many lives," DeWine said.

"The emotions tied to this day are for many, including me, still very raw," the governor said. "As long as I live, I’ll never forget visiting the Oregon District that day and seeing the blood on the street. I’ll never forget the funerals and the absolute grief in the eyes of family members."

He called on state lawmakers to pass the STRONGOhio legislation his office put forward in October 2019. DeWine called it "a reasonable and aggressive package of legislation designed to protect citizens from gun violence while also protecting the rights of Ohio’s law-abiding citizens."

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