Anna Huntsman, ideastream/WCPN
Public health experts have mixed feelings about the new guidance.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea at all,” said Tara Smith, professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health at Kent State University. “I understand the push to get and keep kids in school … but I think from a public health point of view, this is moving backward,” Smith said.
Smith expressed concerns about the number of students in the sample size of the study being too small, and that the schools studied may not be representative of schools in all regions in the state.
On the other hand, Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University, has a different view. Adalja supports the relaxed rules from the DeWine administration because contact tracing efforts have shown most children are not contracting COVID-19 in the classroom.
“This is a reasonable, data-driven approach that, I think, will not likely result in increased cases in schools, so long as schools are taking it seriously,” Adalja said. “I do think with masking policies and physical separation, you likely can de-limit the number of significant exposures that a person in a classroom has with others,” he said.
But Smith at Kent State has heard anecdotally that some Ohio schools have had problems with mask compliance, which is another one of her concerns about the new guidance, she said.