Editor's note: A previous version of this story did not include that the school district has yet to meet with the Warren County and Ohio departments of health in order to finalize this plan. This story has been updated, and WCPO regrets the error.
MAINEVILLE, Ohio — Little Miami Elementary will welcome back more students this morning, most of whom aren't eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and they won't be required to wear masks.
Some parents have concerns, but the district said there's a potential plan in the works.
Little Miami Schools said they are being cautious when it comes to kids returning to school. Neighboring Warren County Schools in Lebanon and Carlisle have had to shut down because of high quarantine numbers.
But there is a plan in the works that could help keep kids in the classroom, even after they're exposed to COVID-19.
If implemented, the pilot program said that when an unvaccinated student who is not wearing a mask has a COVID exposure, families can choose from two options: traditional quarantine or mandatory masking and testing.
The quarantine option keeps kids at home for 10 days or they can return to school with proof of a negative test.
The new masking options would require students to wear a mask at school until testing negative. Unvaccinated students who are exposed to COVID may remain in school if they wear a mask, social distance and if they receive two negative tests on day 3 and between days 5-7.
Only healthy students with no symptoms are eligible to remain in school. Parents can still choose to quarantine their student at home.
The pilot program was presented by all 12 Warren County superintendents and is pending further consultation with the Warren County and Ohio departments of health, according to district spokesperson, Emily Johnson.
Johnson said in a written statement to WCPO:
"Little Miami will not be implementing the pilot program until further discussion and guidance is given to the district by ODH and the Warren County Health District. If those discussions and protocols cannot be put into place prior to September 13th, LM will not launch the program until it is appropriate and the district is ready. Further communication will be made to families if and when the district is ready to implement the program."
The plan is still waiting on full approval from the Ohio Department of Health, but districts are preparing to move forward with the plan.
"Testing is going to be a major part of this,” said Tom Isaacs, superintendent of the Warren County Educational Services Center. “And so the state, at no cost, is providing thousands of rapid test kits to my office and we've distributed those to schools. Right now, the big concern we have is having personnel to do this. So, for example, if you determine 25 or 30 or 40 kids have been exposed to COVID at school, that means that number of kids need to have a rapid test on day 3 of this pilot project."
Funding from Warren County commissioners' COVID-19 emergency relief funds are going to the school districts so they can hire nurses to help with contact tracing and administering tests.