Health board backs opening schools


LISBON — As the local county schools discuss prepare to send children back to school, the county health department gave its full support of the plan during Wednesday’s meeting.

Medical services administrator Jamie Elenz said Columbiana County has had six people under the age of 18 who have had the coronavirus. The disease trackers kept in good contact with these families. All six of the children got the virus from an adult in the family and in cases where there was a sibling, the children did not spread it to each other.

Of those six cases, only three had any symptoms. While the cases ranged in age from 2 to 17, younger symptomatic cases had mostly just a fever, while the older youngsters had symptoms closer to that of younger adults — coughs, headaches, fevers, nausea and diarrhea. Additionally, Elenz said the children with symptoms recovered quicker with most only showing symptoms for about a week. She notes this is what has been found in our county, which is not necessarily the same as what someone may hear on the national news.

Dr. Jack Amato, chairman of the county health board, also endorsed sending the children back to school in the fall. Amato said national figures show 30 children, those under the age of 18, have died from COVID-19 nationwide as opposed to 140 children who have died from the regular influenza.

“There is not one absolutely confirmed case of transfer of COVID from a child to an adult,” Amato said, adding in Sweden and Denmark the schools never closed. “I do not feel there is a significant risk to the children.”

Amato pointed out the American Academy of Pediatrics is even going so far as not to suggest masks or social distancing for children in school, but noting the importance of school for the health of children.

Health Commissioner Wes Vins and Elenz have been working with the schools as they work toward reopening plans, which are expected to be released to the public in the next couple weeks. Vins said he has been working weekly with the superintendents, who are diligently trying to find the best system for their different school system while working with the plans and guidance that have come from Center for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For instance, Vins said many of our local school districts rely heavily on busing students and he suggests parents who have the ability to take or pick up their child from school, or both, could consider doing so to reduce the density on the bus.

In other matters Wednesday:

— The board approved board orders requiring those with properties along the Kensington sewer line who have not already hooked into it to do so — David Gromley, David and Linda Huffman, Jack Smalley, Michael Gruszecki, Cory Thompson, Ernest and Stephanie Lautzenheiser, Eric Lee Davis and Roy Larkins.

— The board approved several bid groups for Water Pollution Control Fund money — bid group eight from last year, $25,869 to Murray Septic and Excavating; bid group one from this year’s money to Gruber Excavating for $23,933; and bid groups two, three and four to Murray Septic and Excavating for $21,758, $35,433 and $34,331 respectively.

— The board approved $23,759 toward the purchase of a new messaging sign from Campbell Signs in Calcutta and $9,814 for a copier with a five-year contract through Valley Office Services. The money came through COVID relief money.



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