COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio’s Department of Health released its COVID-19 guidance for schools on Tuesday, and although it does not include any mandates on mask-wearing, it does keep in place previous policies on quarantining for those who are not vaccinated and were exposed to the disease.
The three-step guidance is:
- Strongly recommend vaccination for those who are eligible (12 and older)
- Strongly recommend wearing a mask if not vaccinated
- Additional measures: good ventilation, maximizing distance between people, good hygiene
Although mask-wearing will not be required at a state level as it was last school year, quarantining measures will remain in place. The CDC recommends quarantining if an unmasked and unvaccinated person spends more than a total of 15 minutes a day within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19. The CDC calls for a 14-day quarantine without a test or seven days after a negative test but notes that local health department orders take precedence.
“Unvaccinated students who have been exposed to COVID-19 in school settings can continue to attend school and participate in sports and extra-curricular activities if both students were wearing masks consistently and correctly, and other layered prevention strategies including appropriate distancing were in place,” the guidance reads. “This quarantine procedure will continue as we begin the 2021-22 school year. Fully vaccinated students do not have to quarantine.”
The guidance notes that quarantining is a practice that predates the coronavirus pandemic, being used for diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
Decisions on mask-wearing will be decided at a more local level. Last week, Columbus City Schools announced that it would start the school year with masks required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
The complete guidance from the Department of Health may be read here.