Information on Quarantining, Testing, and Getting Vaccinated.
K-12 Schools Guidance: Mask to Stay/Test to Play Option – Dec. 30, 2021
Mask to Stay/Test to Play Option
Quarantining students at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 has the unintended consequence of reducing in-school learning and can be an added strain on parents, schools, and local health departments (LHDs). While vaccination and mask usage are critical components to ensuring a safe school environment, we offer an in-school alternative to quarantining students and school staff at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 to support in-school learning and reduce the strain. This recommendation is informed by a growing body of national experience, a pilot in Warren County, and evolution of public health recommendations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on this information, we recommend the following for K-12 students and staff who are returning to a school setting following COVID-19 exposure. Mask to Stay Direct contacts, regardless of vaccination or masking status, may remain in the classroom environment if they do the following:
• Wear a mask for 10 days after their last date of exposure.
• Self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19.
• Isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 (regardless of level of severity).
Direct contacts for COVID-19 are those individuals who are identified as being directly exposed to COVID-19 by the positive case. Remember, COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and does not require physical contact to spread. It is spread through sneezing, coughing, talking, and breathing. These factors should be considered when determining level of exposure and direct contacts. Best practice for distancing is 3 ft with everyone masked, 6 ft if the individual is not masked. Testing on day 5 after exposure is recommended.
Parents and students are responsible for symptom monitoring; however, if nurses/school staff see a child exhibiting symptoms they should act accordingly. We recognize that some students are unable to wear a mask because of a medical condition or developmental disability as recognized by their medical provider. In these instances, we recommend that LHDs and schools work together to determine if there is a safe way of allowing these students to remain in the school setting. When making this determination, the level of risk and the safety and health of other students must be considered.
To assess whether an unmasked student can safely remain in the classroom setting, consider:
• The masking policy of the school.
o Universal masking policies reduce the risk of spread.
o The more students who are wearing masks, the less the virus can spread. This reduces risk.
• The testing policy of the school.
o Testing is another strategy that schools could choose to implement. Jan. 26, 2022
o The more testing a school does, the greater the chance of identifying and isolating positive cases to reduce the risk of infecting others.
o If districts are planning to allow an unmasked student to remain in the classroom setting, the student should be tested daily.
• The social distancing strategy of the school.
o Maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more around the exposed and direct contact without a mask reduces risk.
• The ability of the student to follow mitigation strategies/behaviors.
o Proper hand hygiene.
o Proper cough etiquette.
o Maintaining personal distance.
• Community transmission rates.
o Community transmission rates should be considered.
o High level of transmission rates in communities creates increased risk of transmission within the school environment and a greater chance for outbreaks
When used in combination, these strategies provide an increased layer of protection for the exposed direct contact and other students and staff. Layering mitigation strategies including masking, testing, social distancing and appropriate hygiene measures helps reduce the risk of virus spread.
Test to Play
Asymptomatic contacts may continue to participate in extracurricular activities if they do the following:
Wear a mask when able. (This includes: transportation; locker rooms; sitting/standing on the sidelines; and anytime the mask will not interfere with breathing, the activity, or create a safety hazard.)
• Test on initial notification of exposure to COVID-19.
• Testing on day 5 after exposure is recommended.
Please Note: The tests referenced above are SARS-CoV-2 viral (PCR or antigen) tests. They should be proctored/observed by someone and cannot be an over the counter, at home test that was self-administered without a proctor.
Districts should consider same day testing for athletic competitions where there is the potential of school-to-school exposure. If students involved in competitions become positive for COVID19, contact tracing with other team does not need to occur; instead, send a general letter to notify the other team of the potential exposure.
These proposed changes incorporate mask wearing and testing to reduce the chance of spread of COVID-19 within structured school settings and provides a safe alternative to quarantine.
Quarantine and Isolation
Ohio Department of Health Aligns with Updated CDC Quarantine and Isolation Guidance
“Evidence shows that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to symptom onset, and in the 2-3 days after symptoms begin,” explained Dr. Vanderhoff. “The CDC’s updated quarantine and isolation guidance takes the latest science and evidence into consideration, with a focus on testing, masking, and symptom monitoring – similar to Ohio’s reduced quarantine guidelines in the state’s ‘mask to stay’ and ‘test to play’ guidance.”
The Ohio Department of Health has released a flow chart based on the CDC’s updated guidance following an exposure to someone with COVID-19. Regardless of vaccination status or symptoms, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days. However, if symptoms are improving, isolation may end on the sixth day following either symptom onset or a positive COVID-19 test if the person consistently wears a mask for the next five days. Detailed quarantine and isolation guidance are available in the flow chart.
The Ohio Department of Health has also updated K-12 school quarantine guidance including “mask to stay” and “test to play” timelines accordingly.
There are many opportunities in Ohio to be vaccinated, including walk-in and scheduled appointments statewide at pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, doctor’s offices, community vaccination sites, and local health departments. There is ample supply of vaccine for boosters, as well as first and second doses, for Ohioans.
Ohioans can check their eligibility and book an appointment online at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov or by calling 1-833-427-5634.
Ohioans who want to learn more about the safety, efficacy, and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines should talk to their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine to learn more.
COVID-19, Anxiety, and Depression
Ways to Cope with Strong Feelings Related to COVID-19.
The Adams County Health Department offers Behavioral Health Services which can be found on this website under Behavioral Health.
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH, strongly offers these recommendations for coping with anxiety related to the COVID-19 outbreak:
Remember that distress, anxiety, fear, and strong emotions are normal in times of distress or crisis. Remind yourself and others that these feelings will fade.
Get information from a trusted source, such as coronavirus.ohio.gov or by calling the Ohio COVID-19 call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
Learn and follow tips for preparing for and responding to COVID-19.
Learn and follow tips on how to prevent COVID-19.
Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. It is important to get good information to help you prepare and respond, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your family with information.
Eat nutritious food, exercise, get adequate sleep, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and drugs, and make time to relax and unwind.
Incorporate stretching or meditation into your routine. Take deep breaths when feeling overwhelmed.
Stay connected with friends and family. Discuss your concerns and be supportive of theirs.
Keep participating in hobbies/activities that do not expose you to close contact with others in confined spaces.
If you have a mental health condition, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms. Call your healthcare provider with any concerns.
Recognize signs of distress:
Feeling hopeless or helpless.
Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
Worsening of chronic health problems.
Anger or short-temper.
Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Call your healthcare provider if your feelings overwhelm you for several days in a row.
Reach out for help:
Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national Disaster Distress Helpline by calling 1-800-985-5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746.
Reach the Ohio Crisis Text Line* by texting keyword 4HOPE to 741 741.
Reach the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Help Line* at 1.877.275.6364
Find a provider at https://findtreatment.gov.
*These functions will remain operational and staffed.
Additional resources on mental health and COVID-19 can be found at mha.ohio.gov/coronavirus.
For additional COVID-19 information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.