Area superintendents seek state pilot to keep students in classrooms

ZANESVILLE, OhioAs school districts across the state are being impacted by COVID-19, superintendents from southeast Ohio are asking Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, to approve a pilot project designed to keep healthy children in classrooms. “The Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center (MVESC) officially made the request to the state on behalf of 40 superintendents from southeast and east-central Ohio,” said Lori Snyder-Lowe, Superintendent, MVESC. The request comes days after Governor DeWine announced a pilot program for 10 districts in Warren County in southwestern Ohio.

The letter of request cites data released September 1, 2021, by the Ohio Department of Education showing that students on remote learning did not achieve near the levels of students who attended “in person” school. Further, it suggests that districts in rural areas experience more difficult educational challenges in terms of providing remote instruction to students due to lack of access to internet and transportation.

The letter of request provides a plan for the pilot, which differs from the state’s current guideline that requires unvaccinated students and staff without symptoms to quarantine at home if they were not wearing masks or distanced when exposed to COVID-19. Specifically, the superintendents propose when an unvaccinated student who is not wearing a mask is identified as a close contact, the following options are presented to the student’s family:

  • Traditional Quarantine – 10 days at home or return to schools on day 7, with proof of a negative test result on days 5, 6 and 7.
  • Mandatory Mask Quarantine – If the student is symptom free, then he or she is allowed to return to school wearing a mask for 10 days.

The letter asks the governor and director of the Ohio Department of Health for immediate consideration of the pilot proposal stating, “In this very divided world of masks vs. No masks and vaccines vs. No vaccines, this proposal is the most common sense approach school leaders can use to keep healthy students in school.”

Click the link to see a copy of the letter: Request to Governor and ODH for Rural Pilot Program

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