The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released a new school quarantine option on Monday — the Mask to Stay/Test to Play Option.
Quarantining students at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 in a school environment has the unintended consequence of reducing in-school learning and can be an added strain on parents, schools, and local health departments (LHDs), according to health officials. While vaccination and mask usage are critical components to ensuring a safe school environment, the Ohio Department of Health will offer an in-school alternative to quarantining students and school staff at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 in a school environment 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 experience shared by other LHDs that points toward a low number of individuals with direct contact to a COVID-19 positive individual within a school setting who convert to positive cases. Based on this information and the success of the Warren County pilot, the Ohio Department of Health recommends the following for K-12 students and staff exposed to COVID-19 in a school setting.
Please note: Eligibility to participate in mask to stay/test to play is contingent on the exposure being in the school setting or school-related activities. This does not apply to household exposures or exposures outside of the school setting or school-related activities.
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 14 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).
• Consistent with guidance for others quarantining in lower-risk environments, students and staff may discontinue these quarantine procedures after seven days — if they don’t develop symptoms and test negative between days 5-7.
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 three feet with everyone masked, six feet if the individual is not masked.
Parents and students are responsible for symptom monitoring; however, if nurses/school staff see a child exhibiting symptoms they should act accordingly.
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.
• Test again on days 5-7. If they are negative at this time, they will test out of quarantine.
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, athome 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 COVID-19, 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.
COVID-19 Vaccination Update
As of Oct. 18, 11,806 individuals in Fayette County have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This is 47% of the eligible population (12 and older). The number of individuals who have completed the vaccination series is 11,061, or 44% of the eligible population. The number of additional doses (third doses or booster doses) that have been administered is 485. Statewide, 64% of the eligible population has started the vaccination series and 60% has completed it.
To view a vaccine breakdown by key age groups visit: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/covid-19-vaccine/vac-rate-breakdown-key-age-groups
Since Jan. 1, 2021, there have been 32,399 hospitalizations for COVID-19 of individuals who were not fully vaccinated, and 1,495 hospitalizations for fully vaccinated individuals. There have been 9,768 deaths of individuals who were not fully vaccinated, and 227 deaths of individuals who were fully vaccinated. The dashboard can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/covid-19-vaccine/breakthrough-dashboard.
Public Health recommendations
1. Get vaccinated – Vaccination reduces hospitalizations and deaths and it also helps reduce the spread of virus in communities.
2. Wear a mask – In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of Delta and protect others.
Vaccination Clinics This Week
COVID Booster Doses (Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/Comirnaty)
Tuesday, Oct. 26, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fayette County Airport, 2770 SR 38, Washington C.H.
COVID-19 (Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/Comirnaty) and Flu (Regular, High-Dose)
Friday, Oct. 29, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Fayette County Fairgrounds, WCH (enter at US 62)
No appointment is necessary. Please bring an ID, insurance card (for flu), and COVID-19 vaccination card if you have already received at least one dose. Masks are required.
Johnson & Johnson
Wednesday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by appointment only. Call 740-335-5910.
Ohio Department of Health Releases Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses
The Ohio Department of Health has issued guidance to the more than 3,500 COVID-19 vaccine providers statewide to ensure they have access to the latest information about administering booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines, following action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In addition, Ohioans can get information about the booster doses from the following recently updated resources:
– Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/vaccine/fact-sheet-covid-19-vaccine-booster-doses.pdf
– Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/resources/general-resources/faq-covid-19-vaccine-booster-doses
The expanded availability of booster doses, released by the CDC late Thursday, is outlined below. Booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/Comirnaty, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) are now available for the following populations ages 18 and up. Boosters are not authorized for those under age 18 at this time, with the exception of immunocompromised individuals for whom a third dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended to complete the primary vaccine series.
Those who originally received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
Booster doses are authorized for all recipients of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone age 18 or older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a second booster dose at least two months following the initial dose.
Those who originally received an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer/Comirnaty):
Those who received an initial series of either Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna, received their second dose at least six months ago, and meet any of the following criteria are eligible:
– 65 years and older.
– Age 18 and older who live in long-term care settings.
– Age 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions.
– Age 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings.
At this time, individuals who receive a messenger RNA vaccine (Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna) should not exceed three total doses.
Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. This mix-and-match approach only applies to booster doses. A primary vaccination series should be completed using the same product.
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.