Greene County Health releases guidance for schools reopening plan

Health Commissioner Melissa Howell of Greene County Public Health speaks during a joint press conference on the coronavirus situation with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Health Commissioner Melissa Howell of Greene County Public Health speaks during a joint press conference on the coronavirus situation with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Greene County Public Health released its back-to-school guidance for Greene County schools reopening at the beginning of the new academic year.

“It is vital that everyone work together in a collaborative way to create policies and procedures that protect the integrity of the educational process and foster the overall health of everyone,” according to a news release. “It is in this spirit that Greene County Public Health has created these general principles that each school district can consider as our community proceeds with the reopening of our schools throughout Greene.”

The guidance includes general guidelines and ways to implement safety protocols, a detailed symptom assessment schools can use when deciding who should stay home, an action plan if a person tests positive for COVID-19, communication guidance, a water systems safety plan, classroom occupancy guidance and more.

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Face masks were recommended for all students grades three through 12. All school staff and volunteers must wear face masks unless it is unsafe to do so or where doing so would significantly interfere with the learning process.

At Monday’s Beavercreek city council meeting, Beavercreek Mayor Bob Stone commended Greene Co. Health Director Melissa Howell for being “on top of (the COVID-19) pandemic from day one.” Howell is in constant communication with city hall and is very accessible, Stone added.

“So when none of us up here are doctors … I, and I assume probably all of council, are going to rely tremendously on our health director,” Stone said. “So if something changes and things go the wrong direction and she recommends action, then I think we will probably jump on board and help her with her action she needs to take.”

Any action the county needs to take regarding the coronavirus, Stone said should come from the authority of the health director, rather than council passing an ordinance any time there is a call to action.

“In my opinion, and this is purely personal, that’s where the initiative needs to be — it needs to be with that health director,” Stone said.

The department also addressed food service safety, as all districts will offer food services to students.

“In addition to addressing social distancing issues, food security also plays an important role as plans and decisions are being developed,” stated the release. “The logistical challenges of successfully feeding all students and school staff will likely vary between each school.”

A “Sample COVID-19 Letter” was also provided in the guidance.

“Each school district needs to develop an individualized plan in the event that a positive COVID-19 case is identified or if a suspect case is identified,” says the release.

Steps laid out for the instance of a positive COVID-19 test include immediately isolating the individual if they are present in the school building, establishing procedures for safely transporting anyone with severe symptoms to a health care facility, identifying and closing areas of the building where the individual spent more than 30 minutes and finally, working with GCPH to determine if a school closure is warranted.

The complete guidance packet can be viewed on the GCPH website at gcph.info.

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