Olentangy Valley News

Mumps outbreak

District tells unvaccinated students to stay home


Olentangy schools will keep five unvaccinated students home from school for almost a month as the district continues to deal with central Ohio's mumps outbreak.

During the outbreak, probable individual mumps cases were discovered at Liberty Tree and Scioto Ridge elementary schools, Liberty and Shanahan middle schools, and Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty high schools.

After another probable case developed at one of those buildings, the district decided late last week to send unvaccinated students from that building home for 25 days on the advice of state and local health officials. The district has not released the name of the building.

District spokesman Michael Straughter said the decision was made to protect students who have not been vaccinated or have weak immune systems and to stem the spread of the disease.

He said the decision was not made lightly.

"Twenty-five days is a considerable amount of time in the world of academics," he said.

Still, the district decided 25 days was the appropriate amount of time because that's the length of the virus' incubation period.

The district will provide the five students with home assignments and tutoring from vaccinated district employees.

Although the students are being told to stay home late in the school year, Straughter said it should not affect their ability to advance to the next grade.

"It's definitely not the most (opportune) point, but it won't stop them from moving up," he said.

Straughter said the health of the district's students outweighed any inconvenience.

According to the district, any excluded student can immediately return to school with proof of immunization.

Officials think the ongoing mumps outbreak began in February on Ohio State University's campus. By late March, officials were investigating potential cases in Delaware County.

As of Monday, April 21, health officials had linked 253 cases -- including 28 in Delaware County -- to the outbreak. Of the 253 cases, 100 involve people with a clear link to Ohio State.

Mumps is a viral disease spread through infected saliva, with symptoms that can include swelling of the salivary glands, fever and headaches.