Warner explains virus quarantines in local schools

‘Staffing tends to be the biggest issue’

By McKenzie Caldwell - [email protected]

Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner has addressed questions regarding quarantines that echoed throughout Highland County school districts earlier this week.

Warner attended the Fairfield Local School District’s Monday board of education meeting, during which board members asked for clarity on national and Ohio COVID-19 guidelines. Board members especially focused on quarantine as the district closed its elementary for the remainder of the week due to the number of staff members who had tested positive or were in quarantine as of Monday.

“[Staffing] tends to be the biggest issue,” Warner said. “It’s not just Fairfield; the entire state is looking at this exact issue (quarantine sweeps) right now and trying to figure out ‘How do we keep our schools staffed with the quarantine process the way it is right now?’ One of the reasons you’ve seen some of the other schools in our general region go to virtual: It’s not necessarily because they have high disease counts — it’s the staffing and quarantine issues that are coming up.”

Warner acknowledged that the different time periods associated with COVID-19 can be confusing and explained the difference between the 14-day quarantine period and the 10-day isolation period.

“It’s a 14-day quarantine from your last contact with the person who is sick,” Warner said. “The 10-day isolation period is when someone is actively sick, so if you are sick with Covid, the earliest you could get released is 10 days after that symptom onset.

“One of the confusing things, too, is if we find a student or staff member here who has been sick for a week, and we just get the results in, they may meet criteria for release from isolation three days later. They’re on day 10 already, but your students who had contact with that sick person in school are starting their 14-day clock at that contact. There are a lot of different cycles of time that get mixed in with all of the quarantine process.”

In previous interviews, Warner told The Times-Gazette that the CDC set the standard for a 14-day quarantine as a person exposed to COVID-19 may develop symptoms between two to 14 days after exposure.

In a Monday post to the Highland County Health Department’s Facebook page, Warner also explained that close contacts, or those who will be quarantined for exposure to COVID-19, include those “who have been within six feet of a positive COVID-19 case for at least 15 minutes (cumulative time throughout the day). …The best available research shows us that people can become sick with COVID-19 any time during that 14-day period, though most will show symptoms between day two and five.

“… This 14-day quarantine period is used to watch and see if a person becomes sick. These long quarantines can place a heavy burden on families and on the school system, but right now it is one of the most effective strategies we have to slow down the rate of disease transmission in our community,” Warner said.

In other school-related COVID-19 news:

* As of Thursday, ODH reported 42 cumulative COVID-19 cases involving Highland County residents between the ages of 0 and 19, one of whom was hospitalized.

* Fairfield Local Superintendent Tim Dettwiller told The Times-Gazette that middle school and high school students returned to class Thursday. Dettwiller added, “Numbers are trending in the right direction.”

* On Wednesday, Warner reported that 90 kids from school districts across the county returned from quarantine this week.

Below are the COVID-19 statistics for Highland County schools as of Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health:

* Fairfield Local had one new case involving a staff member. As of Thursday, Fairfield has had one cumulative student case and five cumulative staff cases.

* Greenfield Exempted Village had two new cases involving students and three involving staff. As of Thursday, GEVSD has had four cumulative student cases and three cumulative staff cases.

* Hillsboro Christian Academy had one new case involving a staff member. As of Thursday, Hillsboro Christian Academy Private School has had one cumulative staff case. The school has not reported any student cases.

* Hillsboro City had one new case involving a student and one new case involving a staff member. As of Thursday, Hillsboro City has had one cumulative student case and one cumulative staff case.

* Lynchburg-Clay Local had one new case involving a student. As of Thursday, Lynchburg-Clay has had four cumulative student cases and two cumulative staff cases.

* Bright Local, the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Hillsboro Christian Academy Preschool, St. Mary Catholic, and Stonewall Academy have had no reported cases as of Thursday.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.

‘Staffing tends to be the biggest issue’

By McKenzie Caldwell

[email protected]