Due to Governor DeWine’s announcement last week and in cooperation with Miami County Public Health, guidelines for contact tracing and quarantine have been modified following classroom exposure in K-12 schools.
“…students and teachers exposed to a COVID-positive person in school are no longer required to quarantine as long as the exposure occurred in a classroom setting and all students/teachers were wearing masks and following other appropriate protocols.” (Please see “School Quarantine Guidance Change” in COVID-19 Update: School Quarantine Guidance Change from the December 30, 2020 media release on the Governor of Ohio website.)
The change follows an evaluation of virus spread in Ohio schools conducted by the Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation Team. Preliminary results of the research study found “no discernable difference in the risk of contracting the coronavirus between those in close contact with a COVID-positive person in the classroom and those who were further away.” To read the full executive summary, please visit Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation.
According to Milton-Union K-12 attendance records, close to 500 students have missed at least one school day due to quarantine, and the district has collectively accumulated over 3,000 student absences due to quarantine alone. On average, quarantined students have missed between one and 25 school days per child, and unfortunately, some students have been quarantined multiple times.
When student absence, quarantine, and COVID-positive results are considered together, the experience of Milton-Union Schools matches the state’s preliminary research findings, and at the local level, we concur with the state’s executive summary. In consultation with Miami County Public Health, the district fully supports these changes and guidelines. Please consider and practice the following measures.
- Appropriate masking. With changes in quarantine guidelines, masking is arguably more important now than ever. To avoid quarantine due to classroom exposure, masks must be worn appropriately by all parties. As a reminder, a mask must cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin. Please review the Director’s Order Requiring the Use of Facial Coverings in Child Education Settings from August 13, 2020 for more information.
- Students and District Transportation. With masking protocols, the above extends to students riding district transportation to and from school.
- Masking and other barriers present in district classrooms allow us to mitigate exposure and reduce spread while also minimizing the widespread quarantine of healthy students and staff members.
- Stay home when you are sick. Students should stay home when experiencing symptoms. For the most part, Milton-Union students who have contracted COVID-19 have experienced mild symptoms mimicking seasonal flu, allergies, and sinusitis. Students should not report to school when experiencing these or any other symptoms to minimize exposure and spread.
- Practice Social Distancing. Regardless of the change in guidelines, we will continue to maintain as much distance as possible between and among students, teachers, and other district employees.
- Practice good hygiene, wash hands often, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces.
Based on current cases and staffing capacity, we expect to return to in-person instruction on Monday, January 11, 2021. Students completing work remotely through SchoolsPLP will continue to do so without change. For those families of children working remotely who have identified to return to in-person instruction, the second semester begins on Monday, January 25, 2021. The elementary, middle, and high school offices are prepared and have plans to communicate with families regarding classroom assignments, teachers, and schedules. More information will be provided by each building.
On behalf of a grateful school district, we appreciate your patience. Our staff members have worked very hard to provide consistent and quality service to students and families during one of the most challenging school years in decades. Please stay healthy and take care of yourselves and your families.
As always, thank you for your continued support of Milton-Union Schools.