The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

District lets up on quarantine rules

Students exposed to COVID-19 may be in class

- By Richard Payerchin rpayerchin@morningjou­

Lorain City School students exposed to COVID-19 may return to school instead of quarantini­ng at home, according to a decision by the Lorain board of education.

On Oct. 6, board members Mark Ballard, Bill Sturgill, Yvonne Johnson, Courtney Nazario and Timothy Williams held a special meeting to discuss the continuing effects of the novel coronaviru­s pandemic.

For about 45 minutes they, with CEO/Superinten­dent Jeff Graham and Executive Director of Family Engagement Jeff Keruski, deliberate­d on the latest guidance from Lorain County Public Health.

They decided students who are close contacts with people who test positive COVID-19, may return to school if they wear face masks and maintain appropriat­e distances between their peers and teachers.

That is a change from the current policy that students exposed must stay at home 10 school days. In that time, students can access their lessons via remote learning, but with basic technology and a high poverty rate in the city, staying home essentiall­y negates two weeks of classes for those students, according to the Lorain Schools leaders.

Graham opened with the Sept. 29 guidance from Lorain County Public Health, which stated students in quarantine may remain in a normal classroom setting if they wear masks and are asymptomat­ic.

Outside class, the students would follow normal quarantini­ng procedures, meaning they would not be allowed to participat­e in extracurri­cular activities. If symptoms begin, students should stay home and isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms.

The motivation for the change comes from Lorain Schools and other districts. A number of students who were in close contact with COVID-19 have been sent home, but very few have contracted the disease, Graham said.

So far this year, 400 Lorain Schools students were sent home due to close contact.

Among them three later tested positive for COVID-19, meaning 397 were getting lesser education during those times, Graham said.

District staff meet daily for updates on COVID-19 and find most exposures happen from family members and friends outside the schools, not in the classrooms, Keruski said.

The board had questions ranging from notificati­on requiremen­ts to the difference­s between in-class and extracurri­cular activities. They noted some parents might keep their children out of school rather than send them to classrooms with other students who were exposed to COVID-19.

Lorain Schools has gotten better spacing out students in lunch and on sports teams, Graham said.

But breakfast is a problem time because the high school is not large enough to feed every student and ensure enough space between them all at the same time, he said.

Johnson and Sturgill moved to follow the health department guidance. Williams called for increased testing of students to see if the change leads to more COVID-19 cases.

The board members agreed they would follow the latest guidance from Lorain County Public Health, while monitoring COVID-19 cases and exposures in school.

The district will notify families about the changes and required precaution­s, and encourage them to get students tested for COVID-19 five days after exposure to end the quarantine status.

 ?? RICHARD PAYERCHIN - THE MORNING JOURNAL ?? Lorain City Schools will follow the latest guidance from Lorain County Public Health and relax the quarantine period.
RICHARD PAYERCHIN - THE MORNING JOURNAL Lorain City Schools will follow the latest guidance from Lorain County Public Health and relax the quarantine period.

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