The following is a guest article from Stephen White, Vice President of External Affairs at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

Fighting for Distance Learning and Museums in Our Communities When It’s Needed Most

Museums are critical, strategic partners in addressing the coming paradigm shift around learning and helping to provide education equity, including those in underserved and low-income communities.  The COVID-19 pandemic has created new dynamics on how we must serve our community and the Ohio Congressional delegation is stepping up to support Ohio’s families and museums.

On behalf of Ohio museums, I want to thank the entire Ohio Congressional delegation for their commitment and leadership during this difficult time to support distance educational learning, making it a priority in the negotiations for potential Phase 4 federal funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  As Congress considers strategies to address this unprecedented pandemic, we applaud U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator Rob Portman, and the entire Ohio Congressional delegation for their recognition of the critical role that Ohio museums play in distance education learning.

Museums have a significant impact on our state’s economy.  With at least one museum in each of our 88 counties, Ohio’s more than 1,300 museums constitute a robust and diverse business sector in our state, including over 25,000 jobs.  This results in a $1.5 billion economic impact annually. 

Ohio museums are beginning to reopen thanks to the steadfast leadership of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and the entire Administration, and while we work to ensure the prevented spread or at least minimize the spread of this virus, museums serve a unique role in bridging the educational gap.  The disruption by COVID-19 has set a new precedent for non-traditional learning infrastructure, and Ohio residents are in dire need of distance learning and education capabilities now, through the rest of 2020, and beyond. A McKinsey study entitled, “School-system priorities in the age of coronavirus” (April 2020) supports the coming paradigm shift in remote learning considerations.

Ohio museums serve as a unique resource to fill this opportunity gap by delivering innovative online and offline distance educational experiences. According to the Ohio Museums Association, with a sample of just five of Ohio’s 1,300+ museums, 2.2 million school children benefited from museum educational programming in 2019.

During this difficult time, we must ensure that education equity is at the forefront of these discussions and that the vulnerable and underserved are not left behind.  Museums can lead the way to provide these critical human service needs. The Ohio Congressional delegation recognizes this fact, and we thank them for their bold leadership, which will provide needed educational resources for all Ohioans.

(Pictured: Stephen and the COSI team partnered with meal providers to deliver education kits to Ohio students during COVID-19)