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Editorial: Don’t pass the buck

On Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine released guidelines for school districts for reopening this fall from COVID-19 closures.

The guidelines offered many recommendations, but few requirements were issued, with decisions being left to local officials.

While some degree of local control is good and a one-size-fits -all solution is not always a good idea, this creates a situation where there is a “passing the buck” to districts to make the hard and possibly unpopular decisions.

Local superintendents want to do the right thing for the health and safety of students, but this could lead to some being hesitant to adopt proper safeguards, out of fear of having to deal with blowback from those who are misinformed about mask use or are reckless with safeguards surrounding the pandemic..

Clear leadership from the state is needed here. Rather than “advise” or “recommend” distancing in buildings, why not make it a requirement? If the state health department feels masks are needed by students, then require it, rather than make a possibly- unpopular course one a local school board has to determine.

The state government has the resources of the Ohio Department of Health and its experts behind it and is in a more suitable place to make such determinations than some small, rural districts.

Schools will have enough to tackle as they adapt to numerous changes in the fall, and leaving these decisions and the backlash that could result, on their doorstep is not the best way to proceed.