COLUMBUS — State Reps. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Beth Liston (D-Dublin) issued statements today after Gov. DeWine signed House Bill (HB) 244 into law. Originally introduced in March 2021 as a bill regarding education for military families, Republicans added an amendment to HB 244 that will prohibit public schools or universities from requiring any vaccine has not received full authorization from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). All the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in the U.S. have been granted emergency, but not full, approval. Full approval is anticipated in the coming months.
Democrats say the poison pill amendment will limit the ability of public schools and institutions of higher learning to plan for the return to classes in the next few weeks. Additionally, it limits the abilities of schools and institutions to implement mitigation approaches, such as mask requirements, for unvaccinated students.
“This bill puts political self-interests ahead of good public health policy,” said Rep. Russo. “With the arrival of the delta variant, this country is still in the midst of a dangerous pandemic and unvaccinated individuals are at highest risk. Public schools and universities deserve to have the flexibility to either require COVID-19 vaccines or establish mitigation procedures they deem appropriate for the circumstances in their communities. Instead, this bill further undermines trust in science and a vaccine that has saved the lives of thousands of Ohioans.”
“The decision to sign this bill makes it more difficult for schools and universities to keep kids safe. We don’t need laws that undermine public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine and the rigorous science that has saved millions of lives,” said Rep. Liston.
The signing comes after the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) held a press conference this morning warning that the delta variant is causing cases and hospitalizations to rise in Ohio. Department officials urged Ohioans to get vaccinated to best protect themselves from the highly contagious variant.