COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has updated its K-12 classroom quarantine guidance to help Ohio’s school districts better plan for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
The department’s “Guidelines for Quarantine After Exposure in K-12 Classroom Settings” outlines the necessary steps taken following a student, teacher or staff member being exposed to someone with COVID-19 while at school.
ODH is following a layered prevention strategy, which strongly recommends that eligible children get vaccinated against COVID-19 and that face masks be worn in all K-12 settings, particularly for those who are not fully vaccinated. Other recommendations include good hygiene and frequent cleaning of surfaces.
“In-person learning is very important for the cognitive, social, and emotional development of our children,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer of ODH. “Developing guidelines that will allow well-protected students to be able to remain in the classroom as much as possible – even if there has been an exposure to COVID-19 – help facilitate that important in-person learning this year.”
If exposed to COVID-19 while at school, students and adults wouldn’t need to quarantine — regardless of vaccination status — if everyone is wearing a mask, at least three feet of social distancing is observed between desks and the school itself has COVID-19 prevention policies.
If all of the necessary measures are not in place, then ODH recommends schools follow the below flowchart to determine whether they should quarantine.
“While children are less likely than adults to get severely ill from COVID-19, they are not invincible and most certainly can, and do, become ill,” said Vanderhoff. “Just like adults, when children become sick from COVID-19, they spread it to others, and can suffer severe health outcomes, or even death. Young children who aren’t yet eligible for vaccines, and those who haven’t yet chosen to be vaccinated, should wear masks indoors, including in schools. For those ages 12 and up, vaccines remain our best protection against COVID-19.
For more information from the Ohio Department of Health, click here.