New Classroom Quarantine Guidelines 

The Ohio Department of Health issued a new fact sheet  K-12 School Quarantine Guidelines. The new guidelines stem from a study that showed children who had close contact (defined as within six feet for 15 minutes) to infected individuals and appropriately masked had rates of COVID-19 that were similar to children with no known COVID-19 exposure in school.

The new guidelines apply to students and adults who have been exposed to COVID-19 in K-12 schools. The guidelines provide that these exposed students and adults may continue to attend in-person school, even during a normal quarantine period, if the following conditions are met: 
•    The school has documented COVID-19 prevention policies, including universal mask wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, identification and management of students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. 
•    The exposure occurred within a classroom environment or while on required school transport (e.g., school bus). 
•    The person with COVID-19 and any associated contacts were wearing face masks that covered their nose and mouth at all times.
•    Social distancing was maintained. 

However, if exposure to COVID-19 was outside of the classroom, the person should not attend in-person school and should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days following exposure. Examples of exposures “outside of the classroom” include exposures during sports and any other extracurricular activities, regardless of mask wearing. 

The new guidelines further state that exposed individuals who continue to attend in-person K-12 school should also follow normal protocols for quarantine when outside the K-12 classroom environment. During this quarantine period, students may not participate in extracurricular activities outside of a classroom environment, such as sports practices or games. 

Expiration of FFCRA

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on Dec. 31, 2020. This act provided 14 days of sick leave for employees that needed to quarantine because of the virus, whether themselves or their children. Employers are no longer mandated to provide this type of sick leave. 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, extended employer tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until March 31, 2021. While these tax credits are not available to schools, districts may continue to voluntarily provide these leaves. 

As always, the OSBA division of legal services continues to monitor the legal landscape and will post information as it becomes available. If you have questions, please contact the division at 1-855-OSBA-LAW.

Posted by Ralph Lusher III on 1/11/2021