Middletown Schools sticking with 14-day coronavirus quarantine as others ease rules

Officials at Middletown Schools say despite Ohio officials recent reduction of the number of required coronavirus quarantine days for students and teachers, they are continuing to use the 14-day standard. Both Middletown's health commissioner and city school leaders say the longer time is best for the district at this time though the policy may be changed later this month. (File Photo\Journal-News)
Officials at Middletown Schools say despite Ohio officials recent reduction of the number of required coronavirus quarantine days for students and teachers, they are continuing to use the 14-day standard. Both Middletown's health commissioner and city school leaders say the longer time is best for the district at this time though the policy may be changed later this month. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Unlike some area school systems, Middletown will continue its 14-day coronavirus quarantining of students and staffers who meet standards despite state officials’ recent relaxation of the rules for schools.

Officials said they would be sticking with the previous, two-week quarantine requirement through at least most of this month.

Middletown officials and those at other area school systems have in recent weeks expressed concerns about the winter holiday break may bring a coronavirus “super spreader” spike from family gatherings and travel.

On Dec. 30, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new quarantine option for schools allowing for students and teachers who meet the definition of a close contact - being within 6 feet of a COVID-infected person for 15 minutes or more - no longer have to quarantine if the contact occurred in a school classroom and if all parties were masked at the time.

ExploreOhio softens school quarantine policy, for those wearing masks

But Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips and city school officials said their discussions, along with input from teachers, staffers, school families, led them to stay with the 14-day quarantine recommended earlier in 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Phillips said she “considers the CDC recommendation of the 14-day quarantine the gold standard, which is what we have been recommending to all Middletown citizens since the beginning of this pandemic.”

Phillips said she and Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. have continued their practice since the onset of the coronavirus in March 2020 of remaining in “regular contact” in exchanging communications about the impact of virus on the schools.

ExploreArea superintendent featured on CNN, in Wall Street Journal discussing school quarantine concerns

In a statement released this week by Middletown Schools, officials said “after consulting with our local health officials, reviewing the CDC guidelines, and discussing with our school leaders, (Middletown Schools) made the decision to stay with our current safety protocols including the 14-day quarantine.”

Students in the city district are attending classes on a hybrid schedule with Wednesdays being an all-remote school day for all students.

Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for the schools, said the district’s school board plans to revisit the issue later this month to discuss any possible changes in quarantine procedures.

“Everything we do is for the safety of our students, staff and school families,” said Beadle, who said regular feedback from those groups helped district officials to hold to the two-week quarantines.

She said comments from school families on district social media sites about the policy have been overwhelmingly supportive.

“We feel like we have a pretty good feeling for the pulse of the community,” Beadle said.

In Other News