Some Ohio schools fight to change quarantine rules

For the first time in quite a while, coronavirus cases in Ohio are declining. The 21-day average of new cases has dipped below 1,000 and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine found that encouraging.At his media briefing Thursday, the governor said the numbers indicate the state is moving in the right direction.Nine counties remain at the red alert level, however. Butler County is one of them even though its positivity rate has dropped.One of that county’s big factors is Miami University in Oxford, where cases are now going down.At the close of August, Miami’s positivity rate was more than 5% and it was averaging 100 new cases a day.This week, it is under 1% with less than 20 new cases a day.On Thursday, the governor recommended all colleges and universities in Ohio start doing what Miami is already doing, testing the student population.He wants them to test at least a 3% random sample each week.”It’s important that we continue to know and the universities continue to know what is going on on their campuses and it’s important for them to know what’s going on with their students who don’t live on campus,” DeWine said.He intends to have more to announce next week about additional resources for mental health problems at colleges and at K-12 schools, saying the need for more help in that area is growing.Schools looking for relief from the state’s quarantine rules are not getting any fast answer from DeWine.He indicated to us today he is open to possible adjustments, but made no promises about it.Some districts like Mason see an unfair imbalance.Currently, Mason schools have eight positive cases and 184 students in quarantine. Even though they feel fine and exhibit no symptoms, they must quarantine for 14 days.That’s because for at least 15 minutes they were within 6 feet of someone who tested positive.Superintendent Jonathan Cooper is among the administrators sending data upstate to try to persuade the governor to loosen the quarantine restrictions.But DeWine’s response today suggested he’s not there yet.”I’ve told our team to take a look at that,” he told us. “They’ve made some interesting points. But what we want to do is, we’re in this for the long run. We don’t know when we’re going to have the vaccine and we don’t know when everyone is going to have vaccine available. So, we’ve got to look at this not just before Christmas but after Christmas and how do we keep as many kids in school as we can.”The long run DeWine mentioned might be interpreted in a different way by frustrated parents in some of the districts.Mason has had 262 quarantined students return to class after sitting out for 14 days.They are now potentially at risk for a second round of quarantine should they be within 6 feet of a classmate who tests positive.There was an encouraging development for families with loved ones in Ohio nursing homes today.With cold weather coming on, they now have the all-clear to visit inside those facilities.Outdoor visits have been permitted at assisted living centers since June and at nursing homes since July.Indoor visits can begin on Oct. 12.That gives those facilities about three weeks to prepare.Each facility will make its own determination about its readiness for indoor visits.There will be a limit on the number of visitors, no more than two per visit.Ursel McElroy, Director of the Ohio Department of Aging, said, “The visits must be scheduled in advance. They must occur in designated visitation areas. They will be allotted 30 minutes maximum. And this makes it possible to have a meaningful interaction but it also allows more family time to visit and it gives the facility time in between to sanitize spaces.”You will be screened at the entry and will be required to wear a mask supplied by the facility.Care facilities for the developmentally disabled also will start allowing indoor visits starting Monday, Sept. 28.

For the first time in quite a while, coronavirus cases in Ohio are declining.

The 21-day average of new cases has dipped below 1,000 and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine found that encouraging.

At his media briefing Thursday, the governor said the numbers indicate the state is moving in the right direction.

Nine counties remain at the red alert level, however. Butler County is one of them even though its positivity rate has dropped.

One of that county’s big factors is Miami University in Oxford, where cases are now going down.

At the close of August, Miami’s positivity rate was more than 5% and it was averaging 100 new cases a day.

This week, it is under 1% with less than 20 new cases a day.

On Thursday, the governor recommended all colleges and universities in Ohio start doing what Miami is already doing, testing the student population.

He wants them to test at least a 3% random sample each week.

“It’s important that we continue to know and the universities continue to know what is going on on their campuses and it’s important for them to know what’s going on with their students who don’t live on campus,” DeWine said.

He intends to have more to announce next week about additional resources for mental health problems at colleges and at K-12 schools, saying the need for more help in that area is growing.

Schools looking for relief from the state’s quarantine rules are not getting any fast answer from DeWine.

He indicated to us today he is open to possible adjustments, but made no promises about it.

Some districts like Mason see an unfair imbalance.

Currently, Mason schools have eight positive cases and 184 students in quarantine. Even though they feel fine and exhibit no symptoms, they must quarantine for 14 days.

That’s because for at least 15 minutes they were within 6 feet of someone who tested positive.

Superintendent Jonathan Cooper is among the administrators sending data upstate to try to persuade the governor to loosen the quarantine restrictions.

But DeWine’s response today suggested he’s not there yet.

“I’ve told our team to take a look at that,” he told us. “They’ve made some interesting points. But what we want to do is, we’re in this for the long run. We don’t know when we’re going to have the vaccine and we don’t know when everyone is going to have vaccine available. So, we’ve got to look at this not just before Christmas but after Christmas and how do we keep as many kids in school as we can.”

The long run DeWine mentioned might be interpreted in a different way by frustrated parents in some of the districts.

Mason has had 262 quarantined students return to class after sitting out for 14 days.

They are now potentially at risk for a second round of quarantine should they be within 6 feet of a classmate who tests positive.

There was an encouraging development for families with loved ones in Ohio nursing homes today.

With cold weather coming on, they now have the all-clear to visit inside those facilities.

Outdoor visits have been permitted at assisted living centers since June and at nursing homes since July.

Indoor visits can begin on Oct. 12.

That gives those facilities about three weeks to prepare.

Each facility will make its own determination about its readiness for indoor visits.

There will be a limit on the number of visitors, no more than two per visit.

Ursel McElroy, Director of the Ohio Department of Aging, said, “The visits must be scheduled in advance. They must occur in designated visitation areas. They will be allotted 30 minutes maximum. And this makes it possible to have a meaningful interaction but it also allows more family time to visit and it gives the facility time in between to sanitize spaces.”

You will be screened at the entry and will be required to wear a mask supplied by the facility.

Care facilities for the developmentally disabled also will start allowing indoor visits starting Monday, Sept. 28.