The Ohio Department of Health is working out a plan with 10 Warren County school districts that would allow unvaccinated students exposed to coronavirus at schools without a mask mandate to remain in class, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.
Right now, students exposed to coronavirus should be required to be quarantined at home if they’re not vaccinated and their school doesn’t require face masks, social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention policies, under ODH guidelines.
The plan, which is still being worked out, would allow unvaccinated, non-masked students at the 10 districts who are exposed to the virus to remain in class if they wear a mask for a “limited period of time” and are tested on two different occasions, DeWine said during a news conference in Columbus.
“If this is successful...this will be something that we would hope we would roll out and make available for our other schools around the state of Ohio,” DeWine said. “It’s one more effort, one more attempt to do everything we can do keep our kids in schools.”
DeWine said he directed ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff to hold a conference call Thursday with officials from the 10 districts to discuss the plan, though he cautioned that the details are “still not totally worked out.”
The districts suggested the pilot project in a letter to DeWine and Vanderhoff dated last week.
Two weeks into the school year, more than 10 percent of students at schools in Lebanon, the Warren County seat, were exposed to COVID-19 two weeks into school, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
In the letter, school officials stated that because they’ve been quarantining healthy students at home, it harms students’ mental health, hurts educators’ ability to teach, sows “distrust and anger” in the community and financially hurts students’ parents and caretakers.
“The division and distrust that we are experiencing this year is at an all-time high,” the letter stated. “If we are going to keep our students safe, our schools open, and our communities from dividing any further, we need to improve our strategy for living life with COVID-19.”
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