COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health announced it is changing its guidance for quarantining students due to COVID-19 after weeks of a pilot program in Warren County.
The “Mask-to-Stay, Test-to-Play” quarantine guidelines were unveiled by Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff Monday morning and is guidance from ODH and not necessarily required for districts to follow, he said. The new guidance only applies to in-school exposures.
Mask-to-Stay: After a direct contact with someone with COVID-19, students will be allowed to participate in classroom and other school activities if they wear a mask for 14 days from the last known date of exposure and then isolate and get tested if symptoms do begin to show up. Students that test negative between days 5 and 7 will be able to exit quarantine.
Test-to-Play: Participation in extra-curricular activities following exposure to COVID-19 is allowed to continue so long as participants wear a mask when able, test on initial COVID-19 exposure and then get tested again sometime between days 5 and 7. The state also asks district’s to consider same-day testing on days when school-to-school exposure is expected to happen.
The tests that will be able to be used for exiting quarantine would have to be a proctored or observed test. The free at-home tests that are available at some local libraries are proctored.
The previous pilot program had been limited to 10 school districts in Warren County, including Springboro and Franklin schools,
The program came after the ten Warren County superintendents sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff in August concerned about quarantining healthy students.
“We are continuing to quarantine healthy students at home,” the superintendents said in the Aug. 27 letter, adding that they believe it’s a serious concern for the mental health of students, disrupts the education system’s integrity, has led to distrust and anger in communities and also has an economic impact on families and local businesses.
Springboro Superintendent Larry Hook said prior to the pilot program about 80 to 85 percent of the students at Springboro that have been quarantined due to being a close contact, but didn’t ever develop any symptoms of COVID-19.
“That’s a big number,” Hook said.
Vanderhoff said the pilot program, as well as data from other health departments in the state and across the country, led the state to change the quarantining policies Monday.
The state had previously said if the program was successful that it would look at expanding it to other parts of the state.
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