CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – No statewide school mask mandate — Governor DeWine made the announcement at a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon.
He’s encouraging school districts to implement their own mandate. Right now, he says his hands are tied because of a recent law that limits his executive power.
One local lawmaker was in support of that limitation of power.
“All children’s hospitals are overwhelmed,” DeWine said during his briefing Tuesday.
As hospitals across the state reach capacity and beyond, talks of statewide mask mandates have resurfaced.
“If I could put on a statewide mandate, I would do it, but the legislature has made it very clear that if we put on a statewide mandate, they will take it off,” DeWine said. “Would cause a lot of confusion. Might go backwards. Fifty percent of kids in schools are under mask order by schools.”
Senate Bill 22 has been passed into law.
“Senate Bill 22 does keep him in check,” said Al Cutrona (R) representative of the 59th District. “It’s not just because of COVID.”
Cutrona represents part of Mahoning County.
“It’s no easy task. The House and Senate both have to be on board with it to revoke one of these orders,” he said.
First News reached out to 23 lawmakers Tuesday evening who supported the law. Only Cutrona called back.
“It provides that if the governor were to create a mandate or an order, it would go into effect for 14 days, but then it allows the legislature, both House and Senate, to join resolution, which can overturn that mandate,” Cutrona said.
Representative Cutrona says he’s not in support of mask mandates even at the local level.
“With children, we want to do everything to keep them as safe as possible, and it should really be something that is a decision that’s made up with the child and parent,” Cutrona said.
But health officials still say that masking is the best way to protect children who are unvaccinated.
“If you have a child old enough to be vaccinated, please do so. As an adult, we should all be vaccinated. We know that masking works,” said Paula Grief of Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital.
First News plans to continue to press the other lawmakers who voted for Senate Bill 22 to see if they changed their mind on the bill.