Quarantine may not be necessary after COVID exposure in K-12 schools, ODH says

With masks and desks spaced apart, young students at Simon Kenton Elementary School in Xenia work on classwork Feb. 19, 2021. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
With masks and desks spaced apart, young students at Simon Kenton Elementary School in Xenia work on classwork Feb. 19, 2021. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Students and staff exposed to COVID-19 in a classroom setting may not necessarily have to quarantine, according to new guidelines released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health.

“Ohio’s goal is to keep K-12 students in school, in person five days a week,” the COVID-19 fact sheet states. “Students benefit cognitively, emotionally and developmentally from in-person learning.”

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The health department recommends that schools follow a layered prevention strategy and strongly recommends the use of face masks, particularly for those who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Other recommendations include maximizing distance between people; prompt identification and appropriate care for people showing COVID-19 symptoms; good hygiene practices; and routine cleaning and disinfection. The protocols are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ODH said.

The layered prevention strategy is intended to allow more students to remain in the classroom and to continue participation in sports and extracurricular activities.

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Quarantine is not necessary for fully vaccinated students and adults after a possible exposure to COVID-19 in a school setting.

Quarantine also is not necessary for all students and adults, regardless of vaccination status if all of the following preventive measures have been in place:

  • Masking for students and staff
  • Physical distancing of at least 3 feet between desks
  • Documented COVID-19 prevention policies (such as identification of those experiencing symptoms, strategies to improve ventilation, cleaning protocols).

However, quarantine is advised if the student or staff member is not fully vaccinated, and layers of prevention were not in place.

The quarantine period should last at least seven days since the last exposure, and the contact should have a negative viral test collected on or after day five. Those who were exposed should watch for any signs or symptoms of COVID for 14 days. During quarantine, individuals should stay home and away from others as much as possible. If they experience symptoms at any point, they should be clinically evaluated or tested for COVID-19, the state health department said.

For more information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

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