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Health

Ohio Dept. of Health changes COVID guidance to help K-12 students stay in class

kids in masks
Kelly Sikkema
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Unsplash

Ohio is changing its guidance on quarantining kids who have been exposed to COVID in a school setting. The change comes after a pilot program in Warren County showed students could stay in school, wearing masks, without spreading the virus. And this is meant to keep kids learning in classrooms rather than having to sit out at home.

In the past, when unvaccinated and unmasked students were exposed to COVID in school, they had to stay home for up to 14 days. Ohio Dept of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the new “Mask to Stay" and "Mask to Play” options will allow students who have been exposed in school to stay in class and extracurricular activities as long as they wear a mask and don’t have symptoms.

“The updated quarantine guidelines we are sharing today will allow for as much in-school learning as possible," Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff said children could return to class without masks in 5 to 7 days if they test negative for the virus. This is guidance for schools but Vanderhoff said there's no requirement that districts adopt these new rules.

Vanderhoff said the state is preparing for FDA and CDC approval of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 years old. He said vaccinating students should help keep COVID spread down. That announcement is expected soon and as soon as it comes, Vanderhoff said the state will quickly get vaccines to providers. He said ALL of the children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ohio’s children’s hospitals are unvaccinated.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.