DeWine backs his mask order for sports events in Ohio

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is saying he will not start second-guessing local school districts as they enforce his mask order at sports events.

His comments came Tuesday during his regular updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a week after a spectator was removed as a trespasser at a Logan Middle School football game for refusing to wear a mask.

“I can’t make a determination in these cases,” DeWine said. “I think our superintendents are doing a good job. I think our principals are doing a good job. And they’re making a case-by-case determination of what they can do.”

Last Wednesday, Alecia Kitts of Marietta told a school resource officer that she could not wear a mask because she has asthma. When she refused to leave and resisted efforts to be handcuffed, the officer, Chris Smith, used a Taser to subdue Kitts before escorting her out. She has been charged with criminal trespessing in addition to resisting arrest and obstructing official business.

The confrontation was filmed and posted to social media. Kitts’ attorney, Maurice A. Thompson of Columbus, has said the school district misapplied the state order, which does allow exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

On Tuesday, DeWine was specifically supportive of the religious exemption in the state order but said it was something he didn’t want to see abused.

“What you don’t want to have is a situation where … all you have to do is check this box and you don’t have to wear a mask,” he said.

Thompson also said that Kitts was seated with only her family and far enough away from other spectators to safely not wear a mask.

DeWine did not address Kitts’ case specifically but only his state order in general.

“This is something (where) I trust our local schools, and they have leeway in this,” DeWine said, “And we’re not going to second-guess them.”

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