LEBANON, Ohio — Lebanon City Schools returned to classrooms Monday with 50 students in quarantine after five tested positive for COVID-19. The district knew this would be an issue, so to get ahead of the curve they hired their own contact tracer to help isolate cases and prevent spread.
"We were prepared for having positive cases. It’s silly to go into this school year thinking that you weren’t going to have to deal with that," said Todd Yohey, superintendent of Lebanon City Schools.
Of the district's roughly 5,500 student population, around 4,500 are attending classes in-person. Yohey said hiring the district's own contact tracer, a full-time nursing staff member, has helped to identify and isolate those exposed to the virus more quickly. The district allocated money from the federal CARES Act to fund the position.
"It's been extremely beneficial. In fact, we would’ve gone days with that person being exposed to students instead of the couple hours it took us with our contact tracing," said Yohey.
By contact tracing those who came into contact with anyone who tested positive for the virus, the district hopes to limit the amount of students affected and forced to quarantine at home. Yohey said he's ultimately most concerned about students missing school, and getting set back.
Other schools in the Greater Cincinnati area have also dealt with the presence of COVID-19 in the halls of their districts, like Holy Cross High School in Northern Kentucky, which shut down Monday and will have students solely online Tuesday as staff sanitizes the school and begins contact tracing.
Yohey said, while dealing with the virus inside the school will be inevitable, he hopes parents will also help by doing their part to limit their child's exposure outside of school.
"We need parents to keep their kids away from other activities where their students might be exposed, because then they drag it into school and we’re left dealing with it," he said.