On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released new contact tracing and case investigation guidance for K-12 schools.

Under the new guidance, schools may discontinue universal contact tracing but are expected to assist local health departments with contact tracing, case investigation and exposure notification related to outbreaks or clusters in schools.

The new guidance does not define what constitutes an “outbreak” or “cluster.” On Thursday, ODH’s director, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, said that there wasn’t a specific number or percentage of cases in schools that triggered the new requirements, but that schools should work with local health departments to determine whether an outbreak warrants contract tracing, case investigation and exposure notification.

The guidance also asks schools to continue to follow ODH’s “Mask to Stay, Test to Play” protocols. These protocols allow asymptomatic children exposed to the coronavirus to remain in the classroom environment so long as they wear a mask for 10 days after their last date of exposure, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The guidance also states that school districts no longer need to report their coronavirus cases daily to their local health departments. Instead, schools must report positive student and staff cases weekly by the close of business on Fridays. The new reporting requirements will begin on February 4.

To view the complete guidance, please visit: https://odh.ohio.gov/static/docs/memo-contact-tracing-final-012622.pdf. ODH has also developed a flow chart that may be shared with student, families and members of the public to explain how they should proceed after testing positive for COVID-19 or being exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

OSBA’s division of legal services will continue to monitor and share resources as they become available. For more information or to ask questions, please contact the division at (855) OSBA-LAW.

Posted by Sara C. Clark on 1/28/2022