Public Health releases guidance for reopening Montgomery County schools

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County on Thursday released guidance for Montgomery County schools as they try to plan the 2020-2021 school year around coronavirus precautions.

The guidance stems from recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health announced on July 2.

Staff or parents/caregivers are asked to notify the school if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or if they, or any member of the household, have been diagnosed or are a presumed positive case. The affected staff member or student must self-quarantine for 14 days, but those who receive a negative test result may return earlier than 14 days.

If staff or a student member starts showing COVID-19 symptoms during the school day, Public health advises they should immediately be isolated and sent home safely. If they need to be taken to the hospital, staff is asked to call ahead to alert hospital staff of the situation.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Once the school is aware of staff or a student that has tested positive for COVID-19, contact Public Health to report the case at 937-225-4508.
  • A positive case will prompt a case investigation on the positive case resulting in needed information on potential close contacts.
  • The school district will cooperate with Public Health in contact tracing to identify close contacts of the case of COVID-19.
  • Public Health will assist in developing a letter for school districts to use and the letter will explain/define what is considered close contact to a COVID-19 case and the need for a 14 day quarantine.
  • Definition of close contact: someone within 6 ft. of a case for at least 15 minutes during the contact window
  • Definition of contact window:
    • Symptomatic case – 48 hours before symptom onset date until the date the case is isolated
    • Asymptomatic case – 48 hours before the specimen was collected until the case was isolated
  • To expedite in the assistance in contact tracing, plans should include updated attendance records, seating charts, and updated contact/phone numbers.

Read the full guidelines here:

As far as food service goes, no self-service using common utensils or shared condiments, such as salad bars, should be used. Schools should consider assigning seats during lunchtime or utilizing other areas such as classrooms for lunch space to help spread students apart.

Student access to certain pieces of playground equipment that are considered “high touch” may be restricted.

Montgomery County Educational Service Center superintendent Shannon Cox said the plan is a good start.

“Clearly we all want the same thing,” Cox said. “We want to be in school for as long as possible with as many kids as possible with safety considerations taken into account first and foremost.”

Cox said as time goes on, schools will need more specific instructions on how to handle confirmed and unconfirmed cases, and when those people can return to school.

“Because, districts are going to have different scenarios,” Cox said. “They’re going to have classrooms with 12 kids, 25 kids, we’re going to have high schools that are going to be in contact with 150 kids.”

As for blended learning, Cox said as of Thursday morning, that’s still being discussed by all Montgomery County schools

“We’re going to do our best to bring them back in some capacity and then we’re going to have contingency plans to know that we can keep them safe by either using blended or remote learning,” Cox said. “What we don’t want is what we just had last spring.”

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