COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday students are less likely to be infected by COVID-19 if in the classroom and the state will not follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to quarantine exposed students.
However, DeWine said there are conditions. The exposure must have occurred in a classroom and students must have been wearing masks.
“Up until today, we have followed the CDC guidelines in regards to quarantine,” DeWine said. “Based on the data we now have, we no longer recommend a student exposed quarantine as long as all students wore masks and it was in a classroom.”
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health, said the new state guidelines come from two studies, one in Mississippi and the other an Ohio study this past fall.
The Ohio study tested 728 children in seven school districts. Among those were 524 students who were in a classroom and in close contact with someone who tested positive. The rest of the students were in the same grade but not in the same classroom.
Vanderhoff said there was little difference in the positive test rate between the two groups. He did point out the students were in classroom settings, not at extracurricular activities or at home. He said the Mississippi study showed similar results.
“What we started hearing from superintendents a number of months ago was we don’t believe these students have really been infected. We’re not seeing signs of that,” DeWine said. “As long as students in the classroom are mask compliant and do the best they can with social distancing, they do not have a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 from a student who may have had it.”
The new guidelines apply to both students and adults in classrooms.
Also Wednesday, DeWine extended his statewide curfew for the second time since implementing it in November. Now it will run until Jan. 23.
In mid-November, DeWine placed Ohioans under a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for 21 days, ending all non-essential trips.
The curfew does not apply to people going to or from work, getting groceries or a carryout meal, going to the hospital or in an emergency situation. Drive-thru and delivery retail business can continue after 10 p.m. Grocery stores and pharmacies are not forced to close.