Lebanon, Carlisle schools reopen after pausing due to COVID-19, other seasonal illnesses

Lebanon City Schools reopened its buildings following a short pause last week due to COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses. Carlisle Local Schools also closed for a few days last week for the same reasons and reopened as well. FILE PHOTO
Lebanon City Schools reopened its buildings following a short pause last week due to COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses. Carlisle Local Schools also closed for a few days last week for the same reasons and reopened as well. FILE PHOTO

Lebanon and Carlisle schools reopened their buildings Tuesday following temporary closures last week due to an increase in student absences in both districts due to COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses such as strep throat, allergies and colds.

Last week, Lebanon Schools had more than 800 students in quarantine or ill last week and that number has dropped to less than 130 students Tuesday, according to Lebanon Superintendent Isaac Seevers. He said about 10 new cases have been reported.

“Attendance is up and the overwhelming majority of students were wearing masks,” he said.

ExploreLebanon schools closing due to increased student absences from COVID-19

Seevers said masks are required to be worn in school and of the 1,650 students at the high school, only 12 students have requested a mask exemption. He said there were fewer mask exemptions requested at the junior high with seven exemptions requested.

“We’re trending in the right direction and I hope we can keep it going,” he said. “We want to keep healthy kids in school.”

Carlisle Superintendent David Vail said it was great to see the students back in schools and believes the three to five days off helped students.

ExploreCarlisle schools closed Thursday and Friday due to COVID-19

Vail said the district had a few positive COVID-19 cases last week and about 105 students in quarantine. He said students were absent also for various seasonal illnesses such allergies, colds and strep throat.

“I’m seeing a lot more masks being worn today,” he said. “More students are wearing masks and modeling the example being set by staff and administrators.”

Masks remain optional for students and staff in the school building. However, bus drivers and students on the bus are required to wear them during transportation.

ExploreWarren County plan to keep unvaccinated, unmasked students in school gets nod from Ohio governor

Vail said COVID-19 test kits have been delivered to the district from the Ohio Department of Health.

Warren County school superintendents received a nod from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to try a pilot program proposed by them to relax some of the state quarantine guidelines to keep more students in the classrooms.

Warren County ESC Superintendent Tom Isaacs said DeWine and Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, state health director, agreed to the pilot project, but Vanderhoff added a testing component that would require a COVID-19 test on the third day after exposure, and a second test in days five through seven.

The proposed pilot program would allow unvaccinated students exposed to coronavirus at schools without a mask mandate to remain in class.

Warren County’s 10 school superintendents recently sent a letter seeking to implement a pilot program to keep kids in school who may have been exposed to COVID-19 but are healthy and exhibit no symptoms.

Under ODH guidelines, students exposed to coronavirus should be required to be quarantined at home if they’re not vaccinated and their school doesn’t require face masks, social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention policies.

ODH shipped COVID-19 test kits last week and the Warren County Education Services Center distributed test kits to the local districts.

The multi-tiered plan provides when an unvaccinated student, who is not wearing a mask, is identified as a close contact, the following three options would be given to families:

  • Traditional quarantine: Ten days at home or return to schools on day seven with proof of a negative test result on day five, six, or seven.
  • Mandatory mask quarantine: If the student is symptom-free, he/she is allowed to return to school wearing a mask for 10 days.
  • Modified mask and testing quarantine: If the student is symptom-free, they are allowed to return to school wearing a mask. On day five, they will have the option to take a rapid test at school. If the test results are negative, they will continue to follow the current mask status for their specific school and grade level.

However, if a student has symptoms, they need to stay home.

In the letter, school officials stated that because they’ve been quarantining healthy students at home, it harms students’ mental health, hurts educators’ ability to teach, sows “distrust and anger” in the community and financially hurts students’ parents and caretakers.

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