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School closure correct

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine — like most residents of the Buckeye State — is eager to get the state’s economy moving again.

He has pledged to do that, in a measured manner. Although he is optimistic most of the time, he has cautioned the people of our state that there may be setbacks in the effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

On Monday, he took a giant step to help avoid that: DeWine announced that public schools in Ohio will remain closed for the remainder of the current academic year.

DeWine acted early and decisively to close public, private and charter schools across the state from March 16 until April 3. Then he extended that order through May 1.

Finally, on Monday, he took the step that many parents and educators were expecting. He announced that only distance learning will be conducted for the remainder of the school year.

DeWine pointed out that he is particularly concerned about certain groups of students while the illness rages on. These youngsters include children with pre-existing health conditions, those with developmental challenges and those who may not get the support they need at home. To protect them, and the public at large, he decided to keep the schools closed.

Some skeptics think that this action is unnecessary. After all, COVID-19 seems to be far less harmful to children than older adults. Here in Belmont County, infections have only been reported in adults, and related deaths have all been among older adults, 50 years of age and up.

But for that very reason — that children can carry and spread the virus without showing symptoms themselves — reopening schools would be risky.

It could put tens of thousands of Buckeye State residents at enormous risk.

Some see reopening schools as a first step back to “normalcy.” But DeWine is right to understand it may be one of the last steps if Ohio is to avoid a new outbreak.

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