Coronavirus

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced schools no longer need to require students who were exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine if certain protocols were followed such as social distancing and mask wearing.
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Ohio Governor Says Students Don't Have To Quarantine If Exposed To COVID-19 At School

The policy change has left educators throughout the state confused and concerned.

Gov. Mike DeWine has encouraged Ohio schools to stop requiring quarantine after COVID exposure in cases where students were wearing face masks and the exposure took place in a classroom. While teachers have expressed some concern and confusion over the governor's decision to veer from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, DeWine has maintained the decision is backed by data.

"We’re changing our guidance and are no longer recommending that students who have been exposed to another COVID+ student quarantine — as long as all students have been wearing masks and the exposure took place in a classroom setting," DeWine wrote in a statement shared over Twitter late last month.

According to DeWine, the change comes as a result of preliminary data his office received after studying transmission rates in schools. "Earlier this year, we pledged to look at the rate of COVID transmission in schools," DeWine wrote. "Prelim results from Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation Team found if students in class are masked/distanced, they did not have an increased risk of catching the virus from a nearby positive student."

Still, the change in recommendation has some Ohio educators concerned. "The fact that we are doing it simply as our state and not with national or international CDC guidelines makes me quite concerned,” Shari Obrenski of the Cleveland Teachers Union told News 5 Cleveland.

Obrenski's concern was echoed by Sean Belveal, an educator at the Northeast Ohio College Preparatory High School, who told News 5 Cleveland they were feeling "a little bit of trepidation, a little bit of fear" about the new recommendation. "Not really understanding why we are following CDC guidelines and then we're not following CDC guidelines," the news outlet reported Belveal said.

Currently, the CDC recommends all schools advise parents that students should not come to school if they have been exposed to someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Additionally, the CDC has recommended schools implement flexible sick leave policies to enable teachers and staff to stay home when they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

But while some educators have expressed concern about the new recommendation, others consider it welcome news given the difficulties quarantines have posed to schools and learning. “I think it’s a good decision and I think it’s a piece where the Governor keeps trying to clarify the rules that are changing constantly, in a situation changing constantly,” Avon Lake City Schools Superintendent Bob Scott told 19 News. Scott said dealing with a fluctuating number of quarantined students became his school district's "toughest issue."

Although DeWine has encouraged schools to keep students who have been exposed to COVID-19 while wearing a mask in the classroom, the governor hasn't updated his recommendations for quarantine for situations where rules regarding masks and social distancing were not adhered to or when it comes to after school activities like sports.

"Schools should continue to quarantine exposed students if masking/distancing protocols were not followed," the governor wrote on Twitter. "This change doesn’t apply to after-school activities, including sports. Ultimately, this is one more step to keep our kids in the classroom - which is where we want them to be."

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.