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Most Ohio schools plan return to some in-person learning

January 19, 2021 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nearly all Ohio school districts have told the state they plan to return to in-person learning in some form as of March 1, meaning efforts to vaccinate thousands of school employees will begin Feb. 1, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

The governor said 96% of districts indicated they’d follow either hybrid models — home some days, in school others — or full-time in-person classes, the governor said.

School districts will work either with pharmacies or local health departments for vaccinations, which could happen at schools or some other centrally located place. Local Educational Service Centers will confirm plans with districts this week.

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The Ohio Federation of Teachers supports the goal of returning to school March 1 but said it shouldn’t be a condition for vaccination. The union said it’s not confident employees could receive the first vaccine by then, let alone both required doses, and worries employees still might not be fully vaccinated in time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it can take one to two weeks after the second shot to be protected.

“We are concerned that the mandate will still pressure some districts into reopening before they are ready,” the union said in a statement Tuesday.

Ohio begins vaccinating people 80 and older this week, with plans to offer the vaccine to people 75 and older next week and 70 the week after that. The governor said prison inmates in those age groups will be included.

“We’re treating everybody the same, the best we can,” DeWine said. Ohio had vaccinated more than 450,000 people as of Tuesday.

DeWine kicked off the week of elderly vaccinations by livestreaming the vaccination of several seniors, including Iola Creamer, a 101-year-old woman who received her shot in Greene County, and Alfred Crow, a 104-year-old man vaccinated in Athens County.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 7,483 new cases per day on Jan. 4 to 6,587 new cases per day on Jan. 18, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.

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Associated Press writer Kantele Franko in Columbus contributed to this report.