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Ohio Loosens COVID-19 Quarantine Requirements For K-12 Students

A student uses an iPad in a Hilliard classroom.
Columbus Neighborhoods
A student uses an iPad in a Hilliard classroom.

Ohio students in K-12 schools no longer have to quarantine if they're considered a close contact of another student who tested positive for COVID-19.

For the first months of the school year, students were sent home for 14 days if they spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of a classmate who tested positive.

Gov. Mike DeWine is changing that guidance after a study conducted by the state showed no increased risk of spread. 

"As long as students in the classroom were masked, as long as they are masked, compliant and do the best they can with social distance, they do not have an increased risk of catching COVID-19 from a nearby student who may have had it," DeWine said last week.

Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, says the state's largest teachers union appreciates that the decision was based on science. DiMauro says the guidance loosens quarantining restrictions but in a limited way that still promotes masks, distance and cleaning protocols.

"What this does is it reinforces what we have said all along, and that is that we want learning to take place, that we support in-person instruction where it can happen safely, but we have to make sure that we're following all guidance when it comes to protecting the health and safety of our students, or school employees, and people in our communities," DiMauro said.

Ohio is changing the guidelines from what has been recommended by the CDC.

DeWine said last month that teachers and school staff in distrists with in-person learning will be the next priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, although it's not been decided when that phase will start.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.