COLUMBUS — Ohio is adjusting its quarantine recommendations for schools in hopes of keeping students and educators in class more even if they’re exposed to someone who has the coronavirus in a school setting or activity, the state announced Monday.
The guidance is optional for schools and applies only when direct exposure to a positive case happens in a school environment, not outside of school.
Under the “mask to stay” part of the approach, even exposed students who were unmasked and unvaccinated could remain in class rather than quarantining at home as long as they wear a mask for 14 days after their last exposure, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested if they have symptoms. If they don’t develop symptoms and test negative between the fifth and seventh days, they could stop those extra precautions.
The other part of the guidance was dubbed “test to play.” It allows asymptomatic contacts to keep participating in extracurricular activities if they wear a mask when able and get tested both when they’re notified they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and again between the fifth and seventh day. A negative result on that second test would allow them to resume normal activity after the seventh day.
The guidance also encourages districts to consider same-day testing for athletic competitions with potential for school-to-school exposure.
A pilot project in some Warren County schools and other information from around the country indicates the number of cases from direct contacts in school settings is low, and that helped inform the new guidance, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said.
He said students who are vaccinated and wearing masks at school already can keep participating in class and activities even if they’ve been exposed to someone with the virus at school.