January 12, 2021
Governor DeWine announced a couple of weeks ago that quarantine policy updates were coming and all of us in the education field were guardedly optimistic about what those changes would be. At the end of last week, The Ohio Department of Health released those guidelines for consultation with the county schools, and reviewed those changes.
The updated protocols do not change the definition of a close contact, but instead, changed the guidelines on how to handle a close contact as defined by the metrics that have been used since the beginning of this process. The data for the new information is based on a classroom study that was conducted using several schools in the state. Please see below for the features of the updated guidance:
- The definition of distancing with close contacts is not the same for all grades:
- High School and Middle School Students – the recommendation is still to quarantine anyone within 6′ if they are in close contact. No change for these buildings.
- Elementary Students – the allowance is for close contacts who are within 6′ but still at least 3′ apart may attend school if certain protocols are met.
- School Faculty and Staff – in the classroom or on school transportation, close contacts must still be 6’ to avoid quarantine. No change for this group.
- Close contacts in elementary schools who were exposed in the classroom or on school transportation may continue to attend school if the following conditions are met:
- Maintain at least 3′ distance at all times in the classroom and on the bus.
- Maintain at least 6′ anytime masks are off – lunch/recess/PE class/etc. during a quarantine period.
- A close contact can only attend school.
- Close contacts cannot participate in any co- or extra-curricular activities during the 14-day quarantine period.
- As it is with other individuals, close contacts must be immediately isolated from all other people if they develop signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Throughout the first half of the year, The Wood County Health Department has had very few cases that were linked to in-school exposures. By going forward with this policy, the health department will closely monitor the numbers to ensure those cases continue to be few and far between.
These guidelines are going to be difficult for us to implement and track due to several factors including but not limited to space, human resources, and time. We continue to ask for your patience and flexibility going forward.