January 17, 2022

Volume XII, Number 17

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HB 244 Prohibits COVID Vaccination Mandates in Ohio Public Schools

On Wednesday, Ohio Governor DeWine signed HB 244 into law, with an effective date of October 13, 2021. While HB 244’s initial provisions addressed school policies related to enrollment of and educational opportunities for military children, just before the summer recess, HB 244 was amended to: (1) prohibit public schools and universities from requiring vaccines authorized for “emergency use” by the FDA; and (2) prohibit public schools and universities from discriminating against individuals who have not received such a vaccine, including a prohibition against excluding such unvaccinated individuals from activities offered to vaccinated individuals. Given that all COVID vaccines available in the US currently bear this designation, the provision effectively – though perhaps temporarily – prohibits all public educational institutions in Ohio from requiring COVID vaccination or creating different requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

After signing HB 244, DeWine voiced his desire for full FDA approval of all COVID vaccines, emphasizing that a good deal of vaccine hesitancy in Ohio is due to the lack of full authorization. Two of the three available COVID vaccines are currently being considered for full FDA approval, and fully approved vaccines are not affected by the new state law. However, some members within the Ohio House’s Republican caucus have pushed Speaker Bob Cupp and Governor DeWine to create laws banning mandates on any vaccine, authorized under normal FDA protocols or not. The Governor’s signature on HB 244 is seen as a first-step victory for that vocal faction.

For those districts considering implementing a policy to require immunizations against Covid-19 for the 2021-2022 school year, HB 244 does not go into effect until October 13, 2021, after the start of the school year; it is also possible that one or more of the current Covid-19 vaccinations receives full FDA approval prior to the school year, which would take that particular vaccination outside of the HB 244 prohibitions. However, given the controversy that has surrounded Covid-19 protocols since the start of the pandemic, districts can expect push back from members of the school community if they require the vaccine under the current climate; accordingly, districts should take care to carefully analyze the risks and benefits to imposing such a requirement at this juncture.

©2022 Roetzel & AndressNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 196
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About this Author

Susan Keating Anderson Employment Litigation Attorney Roetzel Andress
Shareholder

Ms. Anderson's practice is focused on representing boards of education, county boards of developmental disabilities, and municipalities on an array of issues, which includes labor and employment and general counsel services. In her education practice, Ms. Anderson counsels her clients on the myriad of issues regularly faced by school administrators and boards of education, including personnel issues surrounding discharge and discipline and teacher evaluations; collective bargaining negotiations, grievances and arbitrations; pupil issues; levy matters; public records and...

216-232-3595
Katherine Caprez Consulting Solutions Director Roetzel & Andress Law Firm
Consulting Solutions Director

Katherine "Katie" Caprez provides strategic counsel for clients in the public and private sectors. Her work portfolio includes government relations and lobbying and well as consulting. Katie provides clients with strategic counsel, working with them to create strategic plans and establish coalitions which support their goals. 

Katie assists clients seeking to build or strengthen relationships with state decisionmakers and provides analysis on state legislative and regulatory policy developments. Katie also helps clients identify and respond to...

614-723-2038
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