The following has been developed in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and the Ohio Department of Education and is being provided to school districts hosting polling locations at their schools.
As we know, the Ohio Department of Health follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) interim guidelines to prevent the introduction and spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into schools. Schools should continue to collaborate, share information, and review plans with local health officials to help protect the whole school community, including those with special health needs.
Specific to Election Day, it’s important to note that Election Day is different from other large public events or gatherings. Unlike large gatherings like the Arnold Fitness Classic or high attendance conferences, voting on election day takes place in small communities of neighbors who are more likely than not to interact in other ways every day – whether at the grocery store, in church, or elsewhere. Unlike other large public events or gatherings, Election Day does not reflect a situation where bigger crowds from geographically different areas come into one tight space, which could cause greater concerns about virus transmission.
Additionally, and as you know, polling locations at schools already are partitioned from the student population and measures are taken to ensure that students and voters do not interact. The Ohio Secretary of State has provided guidance to county boards of elections regarding the appropriate and regular cleaning of voting equipment.
Finally, and per the CDC, it’s recommended that schools continue to clean frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, countertops) with the cleaners typically used. Use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label.
FOR THESE REASONS, IT IS SAFE FOR SCHOOLS TO CONTINUE TO SERVE AS POLLING LOCATIONS ON ELECTION DAY.
If your school is not already scheduled to be closed for instruction on Election Day that option may certainly be considered if there are concerns about students being in the building while voters are present.
For more information on general guidelines for schools regarding response to coronavirus, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.