DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Local health leaders are reacting hours after the Ohio Department of Health released their new quarantine guidelines for schools. Some health leaders say they’re facing a difficult task of keeping kids in school while also still fighting the pandemic. They believe this is the best plan for safety and ensuring in-person class time.

“It’s not mandatory but I don’t know why a school wouldn’t do this,” said Clark County Combined Health District Health Commissioner Charles Patterson.

The Ohio Department of Health is giving schools a new option for quarantine guidelines. They say if a staff member or student comes in contact with a someone who tested positive for COVID, they may remain in the classroom without symptoms if they wear a mask for two weeks, check for symptoms, and provide a negative test result between day five and day seven after exposure.

Patterson says the data is clear, the masks and COVID-19 vaccines have slowed down spread within classrooms.

“The research that was done in Warren County as part of the pilot project showed a small percentage of exposures that occured in schools or at school setting ended up being an actual case,” said Patterson.

At this time, 5 to 11 year olds are still not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. That’s having an impact in Montgomery County where health leaders say COVID spread is still considered high. They advise parents to continue keeping up their guard until more kids can be vaccinated.

“This particular guidance only is if the close contact happens in the classroom or school setting so if it’s between a brother and sister at home, this new guidance doesn’t apply,” said Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County PIO Dan Suffoletto.

As activities move indoors due to cold weather, Patterson said he is hopeful the new optional policy will be a popular choice. “I think the majority of schools will adopt this as their new quarantine policy,” said Patterson.

At this time, the coronavirus dashboard shows 64 percent of eligible Ohioans have started the vaccination process.