MASON, Ohio. — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine handed down rules for every school in the state to follow when it comes to reporting new cases of COVID-19 at a news conference Thursday afternoon. Schools across the state will need to develop policies for letting families, the health department and the public know about positive cases.
Mason City Schools public information officer Tracey Carson said the district has a plan. “Adjust and adapt,” she said. “That's the name of the game for 2020."
When schools across the state were forced to close this spring, districts started planning their return.
"Monday, we'll have all of that; 65% will all be coming back in person,” Carson said.
That means Mason City Schools, which has more than 10,000 students, needed a way to let stakeholders know when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
“What we expect is that we may know before the health department, and so we immediately inform them of that positive firsthand case,” Carson said.
DeWine shared new guidelines for schools statewide, requiring them to report cases to the local health department within 48 hours and make the information publicly available.
"We just feel that the more information that's available out there the better," he said at his Thursday news conference.
Parents would also have to be notified in writing, via text, or email. Personal information identifying the student or staff member would not be shared.
“The amount of people who that would impact, we would then follow up within 24 hours with a personal connection,” Carson said. “They would get a personal phone call as well as an email reach-out, letting them know that they had had close contact exposure, that we would be expecting them to quarantine for 14 days.”
Mason’s plan goes a step further, and is designed to keep their doors open.
"This really is a team effort,” DeWine said. “It's going to take everybody involved."
Mason City Schools has also beefed up its nursing staff, established sick and well clinics and developed a quarantine curriculum for those who have to stay home.
“There has been this real sense of ‘How do we come together and do our part, so we can stay in school,’” Carson said.