COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health announced on Monday it has updated its quarantine and testing guidelines regarding students at Ohio public schools who come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
Citing national information and data derived from a pilot program in Warren County, the department has changed to a Mask to Stay and Test to Play policy. The Mask to Stay policy has four guidelines:
- Regardless of masking or vaccine status, students may remain in the school environment if they wear a mask for 14 days after exposure.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, then isolate and get tested if they show symptoms of COVID-19.
- Isolate and get tested if COVID-19 symptoms occur.
- Students can discontinue quarantine procedures after seven days if they show no symptoms and have a negative test between days 5-7 following exposure.
ODH's Test to Play, involving students in extra-curricular activities:
- Asymptomatic contacts can participate in school activities if they wear a mask when able, like riding on a team bus, in a locker room or on the sideline.
- Test upon initial diagnosis of COVID-19.
- Test again at days 5-7 after exposure.
- Students can test out of quarantine on day 7.
Students who have worn masks or have been vaccinated don't need to follow either set of guidelines.
ODH says it is the parents' responsibility to monitor for the following symptoms, associated with COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Students who come into contact outside school should follow standard quarantine guidelines.
"Quarantine remains an important part of our public health response," ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said. "But out-of-school quarantine can add strains on our students, schools, parents and local health departments."
Students should be tested using the PCR or antigen tests and should be proctered or observed by a medical professional – don't use over-the-counter tests.
"All of our quarantine guidance is from the state after consideration of available data," Vanderhoff said. "However, we're a local state, and the actual authority to carry that out rests locally with local health departments and working with their local partners."