COLUMBUS, Ohio — K-12 schools have a new requirement from the state of Ohio, following an order issued by Governor Mike DeWine Thursday, in order to make sure the public is informed about what's going on with COVID-19 inside the schools.
"Prompt reporting to the public, to parents, will help prevent potential further spread among students and staff and it will also let the public know what's going on," DeWine said.
The order requires schools to work closely with local health departments to report COVID-19 cases.
"We just feel that the more information that is available out there, the better," DeWine said.
Schools will need a reporting mechanism for parents to let them know if their child is ill or tests positive for COVID-19. Then, within 48 hours of learning a student or staff member is positive, schools must make that information available to the public and report the case to the local health department. The local health department must then report the case to the Ohio Department of Health.
Donna Skoda, the Summit County health commissioner, said her department has been working with local school districts to set up these plans. Health departments, Skoda added, are already reporting these numbers for long-term care and congregate living facilities.
"We knew we wanted to have some sort of connection to them so that we could help them contact trace, isolate, quarantine as needed, and determine how we could keep as many kids as possible in school for as long," Skoda said.
Twinsburg City School Superintendent Kathi Powers provided News 5 a copy of her district's Smart Restart Communications Guidance document regarding COVID-19. She said the district worked with Summit County Public Health to develop the document for families and staff members.
The document runs through a number of scenarios, like what to do if a student feels sick, and it spells out what should happen before a sick student or staff member returns to school.
News 5 reached out to a number of other districts to find out their plans, but many of them said they are still working on specifics.
Skoda said she hopes the knowledge and information shared will help schools make better decisions.
"This isn't intended to cause panic. We really want people to be informed and to know what's going on," Skoda said.
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