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Gov. DeWine announces K-12 school reopening guidance today with Ohio’s next phase plan

School staff will be required to wear face coverings. The state is strongly recommending that children in 3rd grade and up also wear face masks.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine revealed the next phase of the state’s reopening process – including guidance for schools – during his press conference on Thursday.

The state's plan for K-12 students focuses on five guidelines:

  1. Vigilantly assess for symptoms 
  2. Wash and sanitize hands 
  3. Clean and sanitize school environment 
  4. Practice social distancing 
  5. Implement face coverings policy

RELATED: Gov. DeWine says Ohio schools encouraged to welcome students back this fall; students 3rd grade & above should wear masks

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DeWine says the state will require all school staff to wear face coverings to reduce the spread of the virus, "unless it is unsafe or when doing so could significantly interfere with the learning process."

It is also the state's strong recommendation that students 3rd grade and up wear face masks.

"Remember, we wear masks to protect each other, often because people are sick, but show no symptoms.  Masks can be especially useful and are strongly recommended at any grade level during periods of increased risk and when physical distancing is difficult," DeWine added. 

RELATED: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says masks are a ‘symbol of freedom’

You can watch Thursday's entire press conference in the player below.

DeWine also rolled out the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System to help make clear dangers happening in counties in Ohio. The color-coded system is built on data to assess the spread of COVID-19, also to inform and empower individuals, businesses, and local governments in their response.

The system has 4 levels to provide Ohioans with guidance on the severity of the problem in the counties in which they live. Levels are determined by 7 data indicators that identify the risk level for each county and a corresponding color code to represent that risk level.

As of Thursday, all of Ohio's 88 counties are at at least Level 1, while none are at Level 4 at this time. However, the governor cautioned Franklin County (where Columbus is located) is on a "watch list," calling the increase in cases there "alarming." Cuyahoga County is among the list of counties in Level 3. 

RELATED: Gov. DeWine unveils new color-coded alert system to identify high-risk counties for coronavirus

Here's where each Northeast Ohio county currently sees itself in the new system:

  • Level 3: Cuyahoga, Huron, Trumbull
  • Level 2: Holmes, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Stark, Summit, Richland, Tuscarawas, Wayne
  • Level 1: Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Erie, Geauga, Portage

In the last week, Ohio has seen new COVID-19 infections increasing above the state’s 21-day average.

“We’ve had a little summer now, and people are out,” DeWine said earlier in the week. “Sometimes people are not keeping the distance, they’re not keeping the mask on. The cumulative effect is what you’re seeing in these numbers. So now is the time to get serious about it. Now’s the time if we want to be able to do things later, we’ve got to keep control of this. We just don’t want this to spike up and get out of control.”

You can watch DeWine's previous press conference from June 30 in full below: