Ohio releases updated COVID guidance for K-12 schools; vaccines, masks recommended

FILE PHOTO: With masks and desks spaced apart, students at Simon Kenton Elementary work on classwork Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
FILE PHOTO: With masks and desks spaced apart, students at Simon Kenton Elementary work on classwork Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Ohio Department of Health shared its updated guidance for K-12 schools for the upcoming school year, including recommending vaccines for those eligible and masks for the unvaccinated.

The guidelines would include strong recommendations, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state health department’s chief medical officer, said Monday during a news briefing on the coronavirus.

ExploreRELATED: ODH ‘strongly recommends’ masks for unvaccinated as K-12 schools prepare for new year

“While there are no mandates associated with this guidance, we believe that the recommendations we are issuing are essential to the health of Ohio’s youth and the success of the coming school year,” he said. “The safety of Ohio’s children is paramount, and the preventive measures that schools take will help protect Ohio’s students.”

In addition to masks and vaccines, districts are encouraged to improve ventilation and bring in outdoor air as much as possible. For example, Vanderhoff said schools should hold lessons outdoors and take students outside to play when possible.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is highly transmissible by air,” the guidance read. “Improving ventilation is a critical intervention that can help slow the spread of the virus.”

Physical distancing, frequent handwashing and sanitizing spaces also are advised.

ODH also provided guidelines for contact tracing, isolation and quarantine and sports and extracurricular activities.

ExploreCDC expected to backpedal on some masking guidelines

While the guidance acknowledges that children are less likely to become severely ill from COVID-19, it noted they can still get sick, spread the virus to others and suffer severe health issues.

“Our goal is to keep students back in school, in-person five days a week,” the guidance read. “Students benefit from in-person learning.”

For the full guidance and list of recommendations, read below.