MYTH: It’s not safe to reopen schools until everyone is vaccinated.
FACT: Getting vaccinated will help everyone and ultimately return society — and schools — to normal once a majority of the population has some level of immunity to COVID-19. However, that process takes time, and keeping students out of school until that happens will be detrimental to their education.
Young learners especially need to be in school in-person to learn basic skills like reading, phonics, and math that require a very hands-on approach. These fundamental skills must be taught to students in a specific manner that DPS educators are trained to do.
When students of all ages are in school, they receive the attention they need and teachers ensure students are on-track and understand the curriculum.
The CDC, Ohio Department of Health, and local health department have confirmed over and over again that schools are not a source of COVID-19 spread as long as all safety measures are followed. In fact, the Governor changed the quarantine guidelines for schools in late 2020 because it was determined that staff and students so rarely spread the virus when mask-wearing and a distance of at least 3 feet is consistently in place.
MYTH: Students should continue to learn from home until COVID-19 is eliminated.
FACT: Although there are both benefits and drawbacks to in-person and online learning in the COVID-era, most agree that the benefits of in-person learning largely outweigh the risks.
Online learning has less oversight, more distractions, and students must be very self-motivated. On average, students tend to perform worse in online settings.
Students have more success in an in-person environment because resources and teachers are available to them, their peers provide support, their day is structured and they know what is expected of them.
Read more about online vs. in-person learning.
MYTH: If there is high community spread, there will also be high spread in schools.
FACT: This is false. Schools are very rarely the source of virus spread when masks are worn and other safety measures are in place.
Governor Mike DeWine recently announced changes to COVID-19 quarantine guidelines for schools because studies showed that as long as safety measures are in place in classrooms, the virus does not spread easily, even to those in close proximity to the infected person.
"This evaluation confirms for us that Ohio's classrooms are a safe place for our students and that the commitment our schools have made to keeping kids safe in the classroom is working," Governor DeWine said.
When schools do have cases of COVID-19, it is most often because someone was exposed in the community or within their own household, not from being in school.
Latest Health Guidance / Information
Governor Mike DeWine
The school has documented COVID-19 prevention policies, including universal mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, identification and management of students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols.
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Recognizing that in-person classroom learning is critical for supporting the educational and social development of children and adolescents, Governor DeWine has set a goal of reopening K-12 schools to in-person learning by March 1, 2021.
DeWine announced at the end of 2020 that Ohio is changing its guidance regarding quarantines following an in-classroom exposure in K-12 schools. Moving forward, students and teachers exposed to a COVID-positive person in school are no longer required to quarantine as long as the exposure occurred in a classroom or bus setting and all students/teachers were wearing masks and following other appropriate protocols.
"This evaluation confirms for us that Ohio's classrooms are a safe place for our students and that the commitment our schools have made to keeping kids safe in the classroom is working," said Governor DeWine.
Schools should continue to require quarantines for exposed students in situations where masking and distancing protocols were not followed. The updated quarantine guidance does not apply to after-school activities, including sports.
Ohio Department of Health
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Students and adults in K-12 schools may continue to attend in-person school, even if someone in a class contracts COVID-19, if the following conditions are met:
In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics, desks should be placed at a minimum 3 feet apart.
Students should not attend in-person school if they are exposed to COVID-19 outside the classroom, including during sports and other extracurricular activities, regardless of masking.
To minimize the risk of introducing COVID-19 into the classroom setting, students and their parents or guardians should be advised to restrict their activities outside of the classroom, including gatherings with individuals outside of their household and activities where face masks cannot be safely or effectively worn.
Montgomery County Department of Health
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The Montgomery County Department of Health is following guidance from the Ohio Department of Health. By the week of February 1, vaccines are expected to be distributed to K-12 school employees in Montgomery County.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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- The school has documented COVID-19 prevention policies, including universal mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, 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.
- If meals were consumed, a distance of at least 6 feet between students must have been maintained.
- Social distancing was maintained.
How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary. The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than influenza but not as easily as measles, which is among the most contagious viruses known to affect people.
To protect yourself, wear a mask over your mouth and nose, social distance, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when you cannot wash your hands. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, along with these preventative measures, will offer the best protection against the virus.
COVID-19 vaccines are now available throughout the U.S. These vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.