Quarantines keep hundreds of Lebanon students out of class

Owen Natorp, 15, is a sophomore at Mason High School and had to quarantine Oct. 6, 2020 due to exposure to COVID-19 on the bus. He's now home until Oct. 16. As of the 12th, when this photo was taken, Mason had 147 high school students on quarantine, out of a student body of 3,400 students. Natorp said he's been able to keep up with classes with home assignments and he took one test via Zoom. He's photographed at home Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

Lebanon City Schools board of education is meeting Wednesday night to discuss possible changes to its optional mask policy after more than 10% of the district's students were exposed to COVID-19 two weeks into school.

The potential for mass quarantines triggered anxiety among school leaders across the Cincinnati region earlier this summer as districts and school boards made masking decisions. Ohio's health guidance suggests students who are masked and/or vaccinated do not need to quarantine if exposed to another person with COVID-19 in the classroom. Unmasked, unvaccinated students must quarantine for at least seven days, in most cases.

Most teachers and parents agree that in-person instruction five days per week is best for students.

"Ohio's goal is to keep K-12 students in school, in-person five days a week," the health department's school guidelines state. "Students benefit cognitively, emotionally, and developmentally from in-person learning."

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