Students Segregated and Isolated from Peers at School

There was a time when the isolation and shaming of children by teachers and authority figures was frowned upon.

But what was once considered cruel and abusive is now the norm in at least one Ohio school.

Children who cannot comply with the school district’s mandatory mask policy due to a medical exemption are segregated from other students throughout the school day.

Ohio Statehouse News learned of the situation via a social media post and contacted the school district to confirm.

West Liberty-Salem Local School District requires all students in third grade and up to wear face coverings in order to attend in-person classes, as do other Ohio schools due to Governor DeWine’s mandatory student mask order.

Students in K-second grade are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings, according to the district’s website.

Superintendent Kraig Hissong confirmed that mask-exempt students are isolated behind plexiglass at their desks to prevent the potential spread of COVID and are kept apart from other students as much as possible throughout the school day.

“These are precautions that have to be taken,” said Hissong . “This is the best we can do with what we have.”

When it is necessary to leave the classroom as a group, these children are placed at the front of the line and kept apart from classmates as much as reasonably possible, he said.

“This is the best chance that they will not come in contact with others,” said Hissong.

The Superintendent said there is an online option for students that cannot wear a mask. Those who choose to attend in-person school must be “accommodated” for their safety and the safety and the safety of others.

Acquiring a medical exemption in the West Liberty-Salem Local School District requires an order from the child’s physician and must go through the county health department, said Hissong.

The exemption is subject to approval from the school administration, according to the its website.

“There are things I have to do as a superintendent,” said Hissong. “There are state directives that we need to follow. We need to make school as safe as we can.”

Hissong said there are up to six students in the district that have obtained or are in the process of obtaining a medical mask exemption.

There are 1156 students in the district, according to the website. Hissong said about 160 of them are doing online school.

“If your child refuses to wear a face covering at school, when it is required, and does not comply to school personnel when reminded to put his/her mask on, than there may be disciplinary consequences,” according to the website.

The district offers guidance on what type of mask students should wear during in-person school

More than two dozen parents have sued Ohio’s health director over the state’s mask mandate for children in schools. The case is onlging.

HB 606 was signed into law on Monday, September 16, 2020, that  temporarily shields individuals, businesses, schools, health care providers and other entities from tort liability in incidents of COVID-19 exposure or transmission through Sept. 30, 2021.

A school dashboard was recently set up on the Ohio Department of Health coronavirus page that tracks cases by district.

COVID-positive test results entered into statewide police database

If you test positive for COVID-19, your result doesn’t simply stay with the health department. Positive results are sent to the Ohio Department of Public Safety and entered into LEADS, the Law Enforcement Automated Data System.

LEADS is used to alert officers of arrest warrants, protection orders, stolen vehicles, CCW permits – and COVID-19.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s Press Secretary Dan Tierney said HIPAA laws don’t apply to COVID testing.

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a US law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records provided to health plans, doctors, and other health care providers, does not apply to COVID-19 in this situation, according to the press secretary.

“This is valuable information for first responders,” said Tierney. “The purpose is to protect first responders from a highly infectious, airborne disease.”

A “hit” is received alerting of your COVID-positive status when your name, address, drivers license or plates are entered, notifying law and emergency personnel to use personal protective equipment.

This system has been in place since May 21, according to Kristen Castle , ODPS director of communications. Castle said the information stays in the system for 30 days.

An order signed by former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton on April 14 called for preventing the exposure to first responders.

Although the order was apparently intended for protection of law and emergency personnel, it’s possible you could be charged if your local health department ordered you to quarantine and you are found in public, according to Tierney.

Ohio Statehouse News was contacted anonymously by a Central Ohio dispatcher who made us aware of the statewide COVID alert that many Ohioans were not aware was in use.

A “COP” (Caution Ohio Police) is entered into LEADS for positive cases, explained the dispatcher.

“We as dispatchers are advised to look at the date of the test in the COP Alert, if that has been within the last 14 days, to advise the officer of a ‘possible infectious condition’ or PIC,” the dispatcher said.

“However many municipalities have attached criminal penalties to violation of mask ordinances and not adhering to DeWine health orders do carry criminal penalties under the Ohio Revised Code. So it would or could be up to the officer.

“I will say that any department that I work with has gone above and beyond to communicate with their officers that they emphasize education over enforcement and it is not hard to read between the lines to see that enforcement is really the absolute last, last resort.”

The dispatcher said many local law enforcement agencies are not doing anything with mask or social distancing complaints either, they are clearing the calls as information only and not responding.

COVID-positive cases flagged by Butler County Sheriff’s dispatch

The Butler County Sheriff’s Department alerts officers when they may be coming in contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19.

The name and address of individuals who have tested positive are reportedly provided to the sheriff’s department by health officials.

That information is entered into a system utilized by law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians throughout the county,  according to Miranda Sheppard, BCSD dispatch manager.

The sheriff’s office reportedly dispatches for 15 fire and 12 EMS departments and eight police agencies, including Hamilton and Oxford.

Sheppard said the information is for the protection of law, fire and emergency personnel.

“If we load an address for a call and see that there’s a flag, it alerts us to utilize proper PPE,” said Sheppard.

The system also will flag the name of anyone who has tested positive when entered, said Sheppard.

Sheppard explained that Miami University has its own police department and the BCSD does not handle its dispatch.

The program has been in place for a few months. Thus far, there have been no complaints about privacy issues that she is aware of.

Sheppard said protocols vary by police departments within the county, but that BCSD does not enforce quarantine or isolation orders.

Butler County Sheriff Richard “Jonesy” Jones made news in early July when he said he would not help enforce Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s orders for mandatory mask wearing in the county.

“We are not the mask police,” said Jones.

Sheppard said the flagged names and addresses in the system automatically expire after 21 days and disappear.

A video surfaced on Twitter that showed an officer talking with an individual whose address had been flagged. However, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles is not involved in the alert system, said Sheppard.

CDC advises parents to prepare for “sudden sleepover” for school children

The Center for Disease Control recently updated their website advising parents to prepare for a “sudden sleepover” for their children in the case of a disaster, which could include COVID-19.

Coincidentally or not, a few days later on Aug. 31, a new order was issued by Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes creating FEMA COVID-19 shelters and legalizing their use.

The FEMA shelters are to be used to “isolate those diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.”

See Story in The Ohio Star.

The CDC advised parents to prepare for children to be detained overnight in case of a disaster, listing COVID-19 as a “biological threat” that would qualify as a disaster.

Governor Mike DeWine requires schools to report K-12 student COVID cases to the government. This must be done within 24 hours of a positive test.

A three-step preparedness card published by the CDC says it’s as Easy as ABC to prepare.

See complete CDC  infographic.

“Tell school administrators about any extra supplies your child may need to safely make it through a night away from home,” the CDC advised. “Bring extra medicines, special foods, or supplies your child would need if separated overnight.

“Complete a backpack card and tuck one in your child’s backpack and your wallet.”

The ODH order calls for college students living in dorms or other situations deemed unacceptable by health officials to be sent to FEMA shelters for isolation.

See story in Ohio Statehouse News.

Any Ohioan living in a household that health officials deem unacceptable (generally a shared bathroom) could legally be ordered to a FEMA shelter.

College Students can be Ordered to Isolation Facilities, says new State Order

The most recent  Order  from the Ohio Department of Health could require college students to be sent to isolation facilities by health officials even when they do not test positive for COVID-19.

The order was signed by Ohio Health Director Lance D. Himes late Monday, August 31.

Removal to a Covid facility could be required if the student lives in a dorm or in a situation with a shared bathroom or bedroom that does not meet isolation criteria established by health officials.

Per the order, anyone testing positive for covid who does not require hospitalization can be ordered into isolation.

Additionally, anyone who has been exposed to COVID and anyone who is asymptomatic but deemed “high-risk” can be ordered to isolation as a precautionary measure.

Students exiting hospitals also could be required to isolate in such a facility, said the order.

Quarantined students cannot leave an isolation facility until they have a written release from health officials. Each educational institution would decide if parents or other visitors would be authorized to enter the facility, per the order.

No isolated or quarantined student can leave the premises to which he has been restricted without written permission, according to the order.

See the order  here.

Public colleges and universities have been directed to make available vacant sturctures for isolating students. The educational institution is to impose restrictions on the use and access to these structures, the order said.

Ohio State University  is conducting  mandatory testing of 8,000 students each week through their “surveillance testing program.”

“The university will test a randomly assigned sample of 8,000 undergraduate students each week, who will be asked to take a COVID-19 diagnostic saliva test at Jesse Owens North,” said the OSU document.

“This is a required program. Failure to respond and schedule a test may result in a directive to quarantine until testing can be completed, loss of access to university spaces and a report to Student Conduct.”

Calls to several other public Ohio colleges and universities have not yet been retuned, but many others reportedly are not conducting COVID testing.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that Miami University is conducting mandatory COVID-19 testing of students living on campus,

Crawford said he and Dean of Students Kimberly Moore assure that students who test positive won’t be punished, nor will information gleaned from contact tracing be used to reprimand students. Failing to schedule a test, however, has consequences, he said:

“Students who refuse testing must withdraw from their face-to-face classes this term and complete their remaining classes remotely,” Crawford said.

This article was updated on 9/6/2020

Rep. Nino Vitale Responds to Campaign Violation Allegations

“LaRose is sending out press releases about me. There are about 200 of these a year. Why am I special?” – Rep. Vitale

State Representative Nino Vitale said it was a local newspaper that alerted him that campaign violations had been issued against him, not the state agency that filed the charges.

The complaint was submitted to the Ohio Elections Commission by Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Wednesday, two days after Vitale co-signed Articles of Impeachment against Gov. Mike DeWine.

The newspaper apparently leaned of the alleged violations in a press release from the Secretary of State’s office.

The Urbana, Ohio, Conservative has been an outspoken critic of the way DeWine has handled Covid-19 and was one of three representatives to co-sponsor a Resolution to Impeach the Governor on Monday.

The complaint alleges that Vitale used campaign resources for a firearms course that he instructs.

Other allegations include failure to file a true, full and itemized campaign finance report, failure to keep a strict account of all contributions, failure to disclose all expenditures over $25, and failure to deposit all contributions into a separate business account.

“Here comes the smear campaign,” said Vitale. “That is how they keep names off impeachment.

“LaRose is sending out press releases about me. There are about 200 of these a year. Why am I special?”

Vitale said his reports to the state have been the same for years.

“The Ohio Ethics Commission has okayed what I have been doing for seven years,” said the representative.

Vitale said he has worked with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee for years to make certain his Concealed Carry Weapons permit traing class did not conflict with state ethics requirements.

“For seven years I have been asking Ethics, is it okay to do the CCW stuff through my campaign and they said it was. Now they have filed against me after Ethics said it was OK,” said Vitale.

One of the allegations involves an election finance report that was filed one day late.

Vitale responded to the allegations in a social media post.

Ohio Elections Commission Executive Director Phillip C. Richter said the anticipated date for a hearing would be mid-November or December.

Richtor confirmed that a number of complaints are received each year from the Secretary of State’s office, on average between 80 to 200. Another 500 to 700 complaints to the Ethics Commission come from Boards of Election, the director said.

“The assertion of the Secretary of State’s office is that there have been violations of certain provisions of Ohio election’s laws,” said Richtor.

Alleged violations against Vitale can be viewed here.

The complaint also alleges that Vitale converted for personal use his campaign website, email and marketing program and social media accounts.

Documents filed with the complaint say that Friends to Elect Nino Vitale paid for Facebook ads that promoted Vitale’s concealed carry weapons permit classes. Vitale is an instructor and has a shooting range on his Champaign County property. Each was for under $100.

The Secretary of State is reportedly in the process of auditing Vitale’s campaign finance reports and will meet with him on Friday.

An inquiry to LaRose’s office has not yet received a response.

Impeachment poll gets extraordinarily high number of votes

“This specific poll was likely covered on-air more than any other poll in the past year. This poll generated 18,420 votes.”

An opinion poll conducted by a Central Ohio news station garnered so much attention that the station decided to leave it up longer than usual.

It asked, “Do you think Republican Governor Mike DeWine should be removed from office?”

The poll got more than 18,000 votes. Typically the station’s polls receive hundreds of votes, not thousands, according to Adam Slinger at abc6.

Ohioans voted overwhelmingly to impeach DeWine.

Yes: 83.02%
No: 16.98%

It should be noted that opinion polls are unscientific.

Ohio Statehouse News reached out to abc6 when it was brought to our attention that the poll results were never published.

Adam Slinger of abc6  had an explanation for this.

“The poll was opened Monday and closed late Tuesday,” said Slinger.

“Our polls are, typically, left open for less than 12 hours. As our regular broadcast viewers are aware, we do a new poll each day, usually in our 7PM newscast.

“Instead of ending this specific poll the next day, we made the decision to leave it open beyond 24 hours because it continued to generate a high number of votes.

“This specific poll was likely covered on-air more than any other poll in the past year. This poll generated 18,420 votes. Votes are counted by device,” said Sliger.

Link to abc6 story here.

 

 

Ohio Logic: Daycares for Virtual Learning … Not Schools for Actual Learning

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has a solution for working parents whose children must do online school, made necessary because of  Covid-19 restrictions.

DeWine presented a new program on Monday that he said will ensure that students learning remotely have someplace to go during their normal school day while their parents are at work.

Childcare providers, churches, recreation centers and businesses can apply for authorization to babysit them.

Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 25, childcare providers licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) may care for children who are learning remotely during the school day.

In addition, a “Pandemic School-Age Child Care License” will allow qualifying organizations like churches, recreation centers, and businesses to provide care.

To do this, the state will reduce the regulations that organizations have to meet to become licensed.

“With more than 30% of school districts opting for remote and hybrid models of learning for the start of the school year – including many of Ohio’s largest school districts – working families need safe options for their child’s care during the school day,” said DeWine.

“The safety of children is our number one priority,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall. “The new Temporary Pandemic School-Age Child Care license will ensure that our children are cared for in safe, clean facilities by qualified staff, while also reducing the regulations that organizations have to abide by to become licensed.”

Parents will need to pay for childcare unless they meet established low-income criteria.

One must ask, Why not just open schools?

Will these places provide the same security as schools? Will children be safe from child predators and potential abuse?

How will the state of Ohio, that cannot manage to process unemployment benefits efficiently,  process background records of those who will be entrusted with our children?

Zero Ohio children have died of COVID-19, according to the CDC. But Ohio ranks sixth in the nation for human trafficking.

Some 18.5 thousand children were reported missing in Ohio in 2019 – 392 are still unaccounted for today, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Initial Steps Taken by Ohio House to Remove Gov. Mike DeWine

BREAKING NEWS

A group of State Representatives introduced a Resolution of Impeachment to have Ohio Governor Mike DeWine removed from office over his handling of COVID-19.

Rep. Nino Vitale announced Monday morning that the House has initiated the first steps of the impeachment process.

In an exceptionally rare move, House Republicans moved to impeach a Governor of the same party.

Vitale is joined by Reps. Candice Keller, Paul Zeltwanger and John Becker, Republican co-sponsors.

This is the first time in more than a century that Ohio lawmakers have filed articles of impeachment against a sitting governor.

See Articles of Impeachment here.

Impeachment requires a state legislature’s lower chamber to bring specific charges, and the upper chamber to act as the jury in an impeachment trial.

The move to impeach DeWine is an apparent response to hundreds, possibly thousands, of letters, emails and telephone calls to Ohio representatives over recent weeks demanding the removal of DeWine from office.

An online portal has been established through which Ohioans can contact their representatives regarding DeWine’s removal and follow the initial impeachment process.

Article II, Section 23  of the Ohio Constitution states that the “House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. “Articles of Impeachment may only be introduced in the House of Representatives.

A majority of the members elected must concur therein.

The Ohio Senate will have no role in the impeachment process until a majority of the House votes to impeach. The decision to hold a vote lies with the House Rules Committee.

Impeachments shall be tried by the senate; and the senators, when sitting for that purpose, shall be upon oath or affirmation to do justice according to law and evidence.

No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the senators.

Rep. Vitale has been very outspoken about DeWine’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, its impact on the economy, small businesses, religeous freedom and the Governor’s infringement on the liberties of Ohioans. Vitale’s Facebook Page has over 38,000 followers.

Vitale said, “Articles of Impeachment do not go far enough for me. While it’s a good step, Dictator DeWine needs to be charged and tried for crimes against humanity, in my opinion.”

Ohio has plenty of company.  In June, Articles of Impeachment against Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf were introduced.  In July, Sen. Rand Paul called for the impeachment of Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the number of deaths among New York nursing home patients during the coronavirus outbreak this spring.

Five other states have begun the process to recall their governors, another way of removing an elected official from office.

Recall is differs from impeachment in that it is a political device while impeachment is a legal process.

Out of 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) that allow for the recall of state officials, efforts are currently underway to recall governors in at least five.

In New Jersey, Colorado and Oregon, elections officials have given organizers the OK to collect signatures to get a recall on the ballot.

In Alaska, a group to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy has formally registered with the state and is currently circulating a petition to receive official approval.

There’s also a fifth effort underway in California.

And a sixth state may soon join the ranks, as opponents of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak say they’ll kick off a formal recall effort in the fall.

Only four gubernatorial recall efforts have ever made the ballot.