Governor DeWine announced on December 30th that Ohio is changing its guidance regarding quarantines following an in-classroom exposure in K-12 schools. Moving forward, students and teachers exposed to a COVID-positive person in school are no longer required to quarantine as long as the exposure occurred in a classroom setting and all students/teachers were wearing masks and following other appropriate protocols.
The change follows an evaluation of virus spread in Ohio schools conducted by researchers with the Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation Team. Preliminary results of the evaluation found no discernable difference in the risk of contracting the coronavirus between those in close contact with a COVID-positive person in the classroom and those who were farther away.
“This evaluation confirms for us that Ohio’s classrooms are a safe place for our students and that the commitment our schools have made to keeping kids safe in the classroom is working,” said Governor DeWine.
Schools should continue to require quarantines for exposed students in situations where masking and distancing protocols were not followed. The updated quarantine guidance does not apply to after-school activities, including sports.
Additional guidance including a Q & A is being developed for dissemination to all schools.
Phase 2 Vaccination Groups:
On Wednesday, December 23rd, Governor DeWine shared at his Press Conference that Ohioans who are 65 and older, who comprise more than 85 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio, will receive the vaccine next. There are approximately 1.8 million Ohioans who are 65 or older.
The governor said the state is still hammering out the logistics on how to distribute the vaccine to that age group.
Along with Ohioans 65 and older, individuals who are high-risk if they contract COVID, regardless of age, will also receive the vaccine. The governor specifically said Ohioans with Down Syndrome or Sickle Cell will qualify to receive the vaccine.
Finally, during that phase, school staffers will receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note this includes teachers plus other school staff. All k-12 schools including career centers will be part of this second phase.
“It’s time to get all of our children, who want to be in class, back in class,” DeWine said. “These kids are our future. These kids have really been hurt, in some cases, by not being in school.”
The goal is to begin vaccinating school staffers by mid-January. DeWine hopes this would allow schools to begin in-person education by March 1st. More information will be forthcoming on the process etc.