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New Guidance Says Ohio Kids Exposed To COVID Can Stay In Classroom

Masked students sit in a classroom at Worthington Kilbourne High School near Columbus in March 2021.
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Masked students sit in a classroom at Worthington Kilbourne High School near Columbus in March 2021.

Ohio is changing its guidance on quarantining kids who have been exposed to COVID in a school setting. The change comes after a pilot program in Warren County showed students could stay in school, wearing masks, without spreading the virus. This is meant to keep children learning in classrooms rather than having to sit out at home.

In the past, when unvaccinated and unmasked students were exposed to COVID in school, they had to stay home for up to 14 days. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the new “Mask to Stay" and "Mask to Play” options will allow students who have been exposed in school to stay in class and extracurricular activities as long as they wear a mask and don’t have symptoms.

“The updated quarantine guidelines we are sharing today will allow for as much in-school learning as possible," Vanderhoff said.

Children could return to class without masks in five to seven days if they test negative for the virus, he said. This is guidance for schools but Vanderhoff said there's no requirement that districts adopt these new rules.

Vanderhoff said the state is preparing for FDA and CDC approval of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11-years old. He said vaccinating students should help keep COVID spread down. That announcement is expected soon and as soon as it comes, Vanderhoff said the state will quickly get vaccines to providers. He said all of the children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ohio’s children’s hospitals are unvaccinated.

Ohio Department of Health
Ohio Dept of Health
New COVID quarantine guidance for K-12 schools

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.