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Ohio To Drop Quarantine Requirements For Some Kids

Alison Holm

After two months of studying rates of COVID-19 among students in classrooms, Ohio is dropping quarantine recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for some students.  Alison Holm reports.

<--break->Since the early months of the pandemic, the CDC has said students who have been in close contact - less than six feet apart for more than 15 minutes - with a student who has tested positive, must go into quarantine themselves.  But this fall some Ohio school superintendents complained that uninfected students were needlessly missing class time.  

An evaluation team of researchers from Ohio hospitals was formed to see what transmission rates were among students.  728 children in 7 districts were tested over a 9 week period.  In that time period 524 students came into contact in the classroom with someone who had COVID-19.  But they showed no more likelihood of developing the virus than students who were not in close contact in the classroom.  

State medical director Doctor Bruce Vanderhoff says a study in Mississippi reached similar conclusions.

"We've known for some time that being in school is important for students, for their academic progress, their socialization, their developmental and mental health.  Now we have the data to tell us that school's also the safest place for our students, even in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic."

Governor Mike DeWine says schools should still require exposed students to quarantine if they have not been adequately masked, and there are no changes for students exposed during sports or other extracurricular activities.

Many districts found themselves hamstrung this fall by the number of adults in schools who contracted COVID-19.  Teachers, custodians, bus drivers and other school staff who have contact with children will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the second phase of the statewide rollout, but the dates for that has not been determined.

Before the winter break 45% of districts in Ohio were completely online, but many have tentatively scheduled at least a partial return to the classroom in mid-January.  

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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