Coronavirus Update: K-12 Schools, Mass Gatherings, Sporting Events & More
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
State officials are recommending more precautionary measures as community spread of COVID-19 is now confirmed in Ohio. This comes after the announcement of the fourth and fifth confirmed cases of the coronavirus — a 53-year-old man from Stark County and a 55-year-old man from Trumbull County. Neither have traveled recently outside of the United States and neither have had known contact with a COVID-19 patient.
As of Thursday, there are currently no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Columbus or Franklin County. 52 patients are currently under investigation.
Limiting social interactions and mass gatherings will reduce the amount of community spread that occurs and avoid overwhelming the state’s healthcare system in the long run. Officials emphasized Ohioans coming together, businesses considering allowing employees to work from home and individuals making “rational decisions.”
“We shouldn’t panic, but we should take rational actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and others,” said Governor DeWine. “What we are seeing with this virus is predictable, and we have the ability to control risk. Every expert has told us that there is a risk in any kind of mass gathering, so you must ask yourself if going to a large event is worth the risk.”
As a response to the governor’s recommendations and mass gathering order, a number of organizations and institutions are adjusting and outright canceling events.
On Thursday the governor ordered schools across the state — public, private and community — to be closed through April 3. Over the next few days, the Ohio Department of Education is set to develop guidance for schools to ensure student services including school breakfast and lunch are continued. The governor added that it will be up to school districts to deliver and distribute those meals. Testing and other state school requirements will also be adjusted or waived.
The order does not apply to Ohio’s daycare centers and home-based childcare providers.
Columbus City Schools will remain open on Friday, March 13, and will finalize its distance-learning academic plans and staffing plans, with more information to be shared.
Reynoldsburg City Schools will remain open on Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16. The district will be able to provide and distribute instructional materials on Monday, March 16 to be completed at home. Starting Tuesday, March 17, classes and school-related events will be canceled. There are plans to offer breakfast and lunch at select schools once their spring break is over.
The governor has officially issued an order regarding mass gatherings, capping the maximum number of people in the same room at the same time to 100 people. The order exempts airports, libraries, shopping malls, train and bus stations, offices, schools, retail businesses, grocery stores, polling locations, religious events, weddings, funerals and athletic events without spectators.
Regarding enforcement of the order, the governor said it would not be possible for police officers to monitor every gathering, but that he was expecting businesses and organizers to comply for the safety of the public.
Now that two Utah Jazz players have tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA has suspended its season, sports leagues and conferences have made similar choices.
The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday that it will be canceling the remainder of the conference’s men’s basketball tournament, effective immediately.
Mid-American Conference Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher also said the remainder of MAC men’s and women’s basketball tournament games would be canceled. The Utah Jazz played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, March 2 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and Steinbrecher confirmed players had used the Cavalier’s facility in the days since. He added that a decision regarding spring sports were still being determined.
The NCAA previously made the decision to restrict tournaments and games to spectators, however after the announcement of various conferences, the NCAA has officially canceled all March Madness tournaments as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.
Major League Soccer has suspended its season for 30 days. In a statement Columbus Crew SC said it “supports” the suspension, adding that more ticket information will be announced.
The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts has suspended all events and performances scheduled at the Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, McCoy Center for the Arts and Riffe Center through at least Sunday, April 5. The organization said it was discussing with artists, groups and acts to determine if programming could be rescheduled at a later date. Visit www.capa.com for ongoing updates.
The Columbus Metropolitan Library is canceling all classes, programs, meetings and events at all locations effective through at least March 31. However, all locations currently remain open. The library is also taking various steps to minimize social interaction and follow best hygiene practices.
The Wexner Center for the Arts is canceling programming through the end of March. This includes performing arts events that hope to be rescheduled, educational events such as walk-in tours, and film and video programming. Ticketholders will be contacted regarding refund options. Exhibition galleries will remain open, though hours will be limited with closing at 6 p.m.
The Columbus Metropolitan Club’s weekly lunch forum is switching to live stream via YouTube. Programming with speakers and panelists will continue as scheduled, but without spectators. Members will be able to roll registrations into credit for future forums.
More information regarding instructions on viewing and submitting questions to the live stream is set to come.
Health officials have pointed out that the fatality rate of COVID-19 increases with age. Therefore the governor announced on Thursday that restrictions would be placed that would not allow visitors.
16 Franklin County polling locations at nursing homes and senior living facilities have been relocated. Find new locations here.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.