ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Clinton-Massie is poised to be one of 10 Warren County area school districts taking part in a state-approved pilot program that offers a new blueprint for students exposed to COVID, with the goal of fewer at-home quarantine placements and keeping students in school.
Basically, this voluntary alternative will mean that students who have had close contact with a COVID case can remain at school if they wear a mask for a “limited period of time” and test negative for the virus infection on two separate occasions, Gov. Mike DeWine said this week.
At a special board of education meeting Thursday night, Clinton-Massie Supt. Matt Baker said he thinks it’s a great idea.
“The [current] quarantine plans, if they don’t change, are going to just have us shipping kids out all year long,” said the superintendent.
The Clinton-Massie school district includes territory in both Clinton and Warren counties. Warren County area superintendents proposed the new course of action to the governor and the Ohio director of health, who approved a trial run.
Clinton-Massie Local Schools Board of Education President Jeremy Lamb said a comparatively few confirmed cases of COVID can, under the state’s existing quarantine rule, “result in a lot of kids missing school in quarantine.”
Addressing a crowd of some 50 people at the special board meeting, he added that the alternative-to-quarantine proposal from the Warren County area school districts “does show that we’re not just sitting by and following the health department guidelines forever; we are looking for options to make sure we keep kids in school.”
The option will not go into effect in the Warren County area schools until Monday, Sept. 13 at the earliest, Baker said.
The date is tentative, he added, and there are “still hurdles they’re fixing at the state level.”
The pilot program will be accompanied by data collection and state of Ohio examination of the effects.
Critics of the new procedure say it relaxes prevention against the spread of COVID that’s provided by the at-home quarantine measure, and that the now-dominant Delta variant is more transmissible than the original coronavirus.
The COVID-19 tests required in the opt-in pilot program would take place on the third day after exposure, and a second test in days five through seven, according to current news reports.
Five hundred test kits are being sent to Clinton-Massie, announced Baker on Thursday.
Of course, if a student has symptoms, they should stay home.
At a news conference in Columbus, DeWine said, “If this [pilot program] is successful … this will be something that we would hope we would roll out and make available for our other schools around the state of Ohio. It’s one more effort, one more attempt to do everything we can do to keep our kids in schools.”
There are additional things Clinton-Massie can do which Baker believes can lower the quarantine numbers.
At the elementary level, the practice of “mirroring classrooms” can be put back in place, he said. When a young pupil changes classrooms during the day, he or she will remain in the same assigned seat and row, with the same children around him, reducing the number of “close contacts” to be quarantined at home in the event of a confirmed COVID case.
Lunch time practices have already been changed at all three buildings: elementary, middle school and high school, the superintendent said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.