A Message from Ohio Department of Health on the prevention of COVID-19 spread in schools
To our K-12 school partners,
As the new school year begins, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) would like to share updated recommendations for ongoing prevention of COVID-19 spread in schools. These steps will help keep students, staff, and your communities safe, while also keeping students learning in the classroom throughout the year.
Right now, most Ohio communities are experiencing high levels of community spread following a summer surge in cases. While cases have increased, the good news is hospitalizations remain lower compared to past surges, especially those resulting in ICU admission.
Thankfully, we are in a much better position to protect students and staff from severe outcomes from COVID-19 as we begin this new school year. We now have much stronger immune resistance stemming from a combination of vaccines and prior illness. We have access to COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months. We also have widespread access to treatments proven to reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalization for our most vulnerable Ohioans, including staff and family members of students who are more vulnerable to severe illness based on their age or medical conditions.
ODH has worked collaboratively with our local health departments, communities, and schools across the state to help minimize COVID-19 spread in schools during the last three school years. Our guidance regarding how best to keep our students safe, healthy, and in school continues to evolve.
As a result, ODH is updating its guidance for Ohio K-12 schools and recommending the CDC’s general guidance to best protect Ohio’s students in the school setting.
First, because contact tracing and case investigation has shifted to focus on high-risk environments, such as long-term care facilities and healthcare settings, ODH is no longer recommending the Mask to Stay, Test to Play quarantine alternative for schools.
Instead, ODH recommends schools follow general isolation procedures from the CDC for confirmed cases. If students or staff feel sick or suspect they might have COVID-19, they should stay home and take a rapid test. If positive, students and staff should stay home from school for at least 5 days and longer if necessary until fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms are improving. Additionally, after isolation ends, students and staff should continue to take precautions as they resume normal activities by wearing a mask for 5 days (or after two negative tests 48 hours apart).
In addition, we recommend schools work closely with their local health department to monitor community spread and make decisions about the best measures to protect students and staff based on what is happening in your community.
Previous Information (2020-2021; 2021-2022 School Years):