Are we putting too many students into quarantine? 2 area districts will help the state decide

The largest school districts in Butler and Warren counties - Lakota and Mason - are among the Ohio districts taking part in a state coronavirus study to see if required student quarantine procedures are overly strict. (File Photo\Journal-News)
The largest school districts in Butler and Warren counties - Lakota and Mason - are among the Ohio districts taking part in a state coronavirus study to see if required student quarantine procedures are overly strict. (File Photo\Journal-News)

State health and school officials will be putting two local school systems under a microscope as part of new Ohio study to see if current coronavirus quarantine requirements for students might be overly strict.

Lakota Schools, which has the largest enrollment in Butler County, and Mason Schools are among the nine districts chosen statewide for the coronavirus school study.

Princeton Schools in northern Hamilton County will also participate, according to a joint announcement put out Thursday by officials at the three districts.

The “rapid coronavirus test pilot public health evaluation” by the state involves a “quick test performed on voluntary participants, with parental and student consent,” according district officials.

“The test can be performed with results in about 20 minutes. The purpose is to determine if and how cases are spread among children, regardless of symptoms."

The new study is a state response to complaints from some Ohio districts that the quarantining of students who were in proximity to students testing positive was overly cautious and forcing large numbers of healthy students to miss out on live classes, sports and other extra-curricular activities in staying at home for two weeks.

“We are proud to be a part of this statewide study,” said Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller, whose district enrolls 16,800 students and is the ninth largest in Ohio.

“Having been in school all day, every day, since August 17, our data shows that there is little to no spread in the classroom when everyone is wearing a mask. We are hopeful that our state leaders will use the data from this study to lessen the number of days required for quarantine due to a positive case in a school setting.”

The voluntary evaluation is being sponsored by Governor Mike DeWine’s office, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Department of Insurance, said officials.

Mason Schools Superintendent Jonathan Cooper said “we are grateful that Gov. DeWine and his team recognize how important it is that Ohio’s K-12 schools are open.”

Mason has the largest enrollment of any district in Warren County.

“After three months of being in school - all day, every day - we have seen just how effective face masks are for stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Cooper. “We look forward to getting more scientific data that will be useful for schools dealing with the quarantine dilemma, and will give schools and communities who may not yet have opened their doors more information about how to safely come back to school in buildings.”

In Other News