Ohio Governor Mike Dewine and the Ohio Department of Health announced on Thursday, November 19, 2020 that Franklin County is the first county in Ohio to be elevated to the state’s highest-level purple rating warning of severe exposure and spread of COVID-19.
While Gov. DeWine hasn't tied any specific restrictions or mandatory closures to purple"status, it comes with serious warnings: "Only leave home for supplies and services."
“This is a sign we are starting to see sustained impacts on our health-care services," DeWine said while announcing Franklin County as the state's first "purple" county. He remains worried that spiraling infections could overwhelm hospitals.
Franklin County Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola says it won’t be easy getting out of purple, but he believes people will step up.
Franklin County Public Health announced a stay-at-home health advisory on November 18, and Mazzola believes it will work if people adhere to it.
Many central Ohio schools have decided to go to remote learning. OSU has also decided to move to remote classes starting Friday at 6 p.m.
As for Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools, Superintendent Barrett released a statement on Thursday, November 19, 2020, following the announcement of Gov. Mike DeWine. “GJPS will continue with our current models of hybrid learning and distance learning for November 20, 23 and 24, leading up to the Thanksgiving break.” said Barrett
On Friday, November 20, 2020, Superintendent Barrett released another statement regarding school plans for the rest of the semester.
“While we know there is great value in the hybrid model, as a precaution, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools will return to the full distance learning model beginning on Monday, November 30, and will remain in distance learning through Friday, December 18 (which is the end of our 2020 school calendar),” Barrett said.
“We are disappointed this change is needed, but we believe it is the right one for our students and staff, and that it will provide stability and continuity in learning and maintain quality instruction. We are sharing this now to provide our school community time to prepare and make arrangements for the transition,” he added.
Participation in all athletics programs, co-curriculars and extracurricular activities also will change. The Ohio Capital Conference (OCC) has canceled all games and contests through December 18, 2020. Between November 21 and December 18, all in-person games, scrimmages, practices, activities and performances are suspended.
Barrett also stated his plans for the coming semester, including hope to return to hybrid learning on January 5, 2021, after the winter break.
“We will continue to monitor this situation through the winter break and consider public health guidance, staffing levels and current COVID-19 case levels in that decision making,” Barrett said. “We will do all we can to provide as much advance notice to our school community as possible.”