WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – A group of Ohio school superintendents hope a pilot program they proposed to Governor Mike DeWine will keep many unvaccinated kids in school, rather than in quarantine if they’re exposed to a COVID-19 positive classmate.
Thirteen superintendents in Warren County, in the Cincinnati area, met with Ohio Department of Health officials Wednesday morning to discuss a pilot program that is still in the works.
The proposal would allow school districts that do not have mask mandates to limit the number of students that would need to quarantine if they come into close contact with a student that tests positive.
“Instead of saying ‘you guys have to go home,’ if you agree to mask, you can stay in school and then at least twice during the quarantine period, you have to take an antigen test to determine if you test positive. If you test positive on any of those, of course, you go into isolation. If you don’t, you just stay in school,” said Larry Hook, superintendent of Springboro Community City School District.
He says when a student tests positive for COVID-19 and they do contact tracing, more than 80% of the students who are considered close contacts never become positive for COVID.
“We just wanted another option to the quarantine protocols that allowed us to keep the kids in school,” he told FOX 8.
Hook says Kindergarten through 6th grade students in his district are required to wear masks. Masks are strongly suggested, but optional for secondary students.
“We had 53 positive cases last week, with 83 quarantines and we’re right now, as of today, we have 55 positive this week… We’ll probably be, at the end of the day, 60 quarantines, but these are predominantly at the secondary level,” said Hook. “If you take 80% of those kids, if we can keep them in school, that’s a win and we can do it safely.”
During a news conference Wednesday, Governor DeWine said details of the pilot program have not been worked out, but he hopes it can keep as many students in class and keep them safe at the same time.
“If this is successful in this kind of trial that we’re going to have with the Warren County school systems, this is something that we would hope to roll out and make available for our other schools around the state of Ohio,” said DeWine.