COVID-19 in schools: When does Ohio recommend quarantining?

As children return to school throughout Ohio, district officials are working to determine how to keep kids safely in class as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Multiple districts have closed schools due to the number of COVID-19-realted absences, whether students or teachers have a confirmed case or were exposed to the virus and now are in quarantine.

“As many schools across the state started their academic year and have staff and students who are now being quarantined, we’ve clarified our quarantine guidance for exposure in the K-12 classroom,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday.

There are three different ways students and staff can avoid being quarantined if exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom and aren’t showing any symptoms.

If the person is fully vaccinated they do not need to be quarantine, Vanderhoff said.

Quarantine also isn’t needed if the school requires key prevention measures, including face masks for all students and staff, keeping at least 3 feet of space between desks and documenting COVID-19 prevention policies that are in place.

If the school does not require follow those measures, students and staff exposed to COVID do not need to quarantine if they were wearing a mask and maintained a distance of at least 3 feet from others.

“It’s important to keep students healthy and learning in person as much as possible,” Vanderhoff said. “But doing so in the face of unprecedented numbers of children contracting COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, really requires us to take extra measures.”

He also encouraged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if eligible and wear masks while indoors or in crowded areas where social distancing isn’t possible to avoid spreading the virus.

This week, multiple districts have closed schools in the Miami Valley opted to close due to COVID-related absences.

Carlisle Local Schools announced Wednesday the district would be closed Thursday and Friday due to an increasing number of COVID cases and quarantines, as well as other illnesses such as the flu, colds and strep throat.

“There is so much going on and we’re all stretched thin,” Superintendent David Vail said. “This will give us a chance to recover and recuperate to get everyone well again.”

Lebanon City Schools is closed the rest of the week to help reduce student absences from the virus, school exposures, quarantine and other illnesses.

More than 900 students were reportedly out of school Monday due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols, including quarantine and isolation.

Wayne High School students were off Tuesday and will go to remote learning for two weeks. Students will return to in-person learning on Sept. 15.

“Due to the overwhelming increase in student COVID-19 cases at Wayne High School, district administration has decided to transition all general education Wayne High School students to 100% remote learning for two weeks,” Huber Heights Schools Superintendent Mario Basora wrote Monday evening in a letter to high school families posted on social media.

New Lebanon Local Schools closed Dixie Elementary closed Tuesday and Wednesday to allow for additional cleaning and to give those who are sick time to rest without having to make up classwork for those days.

Superintendent Greg Williams said the district is continuing to monitor COVID-19 at the school and that the district could extend the closure.

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