Statement Regarding State Guidance and Local Protocols Related to COVID-19 and Schools

Hello School Partners,

On October 25, 2021 ODH announced new K-12 guidance quarantine options “Mask to Stay” and “Test to Play”, for school districts and local health departments which will allow direct contacts in a school environment to continue attending school after exposure by incorporating mask-wearing and testing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Full guidance is available at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/schools/k-12-schools-quarantine-alternative.pdf

This new guidance will provide more opportunities for in-school learning and reduce the strain from quarantining outside of school. FCPH recommends that schools implement this guidance.  Over the next few days, we will be updating this page with new information along with relevant letter templates.

Thank you again for your continued assistance and partnership in minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

Joe Mazzola, MPA
Franklin County Health Commissioner

Local health departments continue to work with schools to exclude students who are a case or close contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. With the enactment of HB244, schools are unable to use vaccination status as a criterion in determining who should be excluded from school when identified as a close contact. In response to HB 244, and in alignment with ODH guidance, FCPH created updated letter templates for schools to share with families during the contact tracing process.

Joe Mazzola, MPA
Franklin County Health Commissioner

Local health departments work with schools to exclude students who are a case or close contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. In Franklin County and other counties, schools are acting in a lead role working closely with their local health department to carry out contact tracing. Schools do not have the authority to quarantine, but they do have the authority to exclude a child from school based on the request of the local health district. Only local health departments have the authority to issue isolation and quarantine orders, with a medical diagnosis, pursuant to ORC, OAC and most recently S.B. 22. So, if a student who is a medically diagnosed case, or a student who is a close contact of a medically diagnosed case refuses to stay home, the board of health has the authority to issue an isolation or quarantine order respectively.

Schools, not local health departments, have the authority to set policies as they relate to masking, social distancing, etc. in accordance with state guidance and local health department recommendations.  Those policy decisions will impact the number of students who potentially will be subject to an exclusion notice, isolation or quarantine order. FCPH recommends all schools adopt universal masking policies to slow the spread of the virus and keep more students in the classroom.

Our goal is students, and in fact all residents, will voluntarily self-isolate or self-quarantine when requested once they are notified by the school or local health department. We have been exceedingly grateful for the overwhelming cooperation of families and students when asked to stay home. Local health departments will continue to work with school administrators and nursing staff to ensure timely reporting, notification (exclusion) and only when absolutely necessary, issue quarantine and isolation orders, across the county to protect our communities.

Joe Mazzola, MPA
Franklin County Health Commissioner

K-12 Personnel Resources:
In-Person Case Guidance, Forms & Screening Tools

For technical assistance, questions and concerns on cases investigation, exposure notification and contact tracing, please send an email to schools@franklincountyohio.gov. Emails will be monitored Monday thru Friday, 8am to 5pm with holidays being an exception.

Guidance listed below is for school and school-related settings ONLY. Please keep in mind that exposures that occur outside of school settings require quarantining outside of school by staying home for 10 days after last exposure. Please see our What to do if you have been exposed or FCPH Self-Quarantine Guidance for details on exposures and quarantine requirements outside of school and school-related settings.

* This guidance’s intended audience is Kindergarten-12th grade public and private schools. It is not meant for preschools, before/after care programs or daycares, even if licensed by the Ohio Department of Education. These programs should follow the FCPH Detailed Quarantine Guidance document. Additional resources can be found on our Restart Ohio and Guidance page.

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