COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Exactly half of Ohio’s K-12 schools, from the smallest private preschools to the largest public school districts, have reported a case of COVID-19 less than two months into the school year.

New data from the Ohio Department of Health on Thursday shows 1,384 of the 2,767 K-12 schools it tracks (50%) have reported at least one coronavirus case among students and staff since opening in August or September.

Schools reported 7,405 new cases to ODH for the week ending this past Sunday, bringing the school year total to 53,213. This week’s cases are slightly down from last week’s 7,564, which were down from 9,827 and 10,682 the two weeks before.

Schools report cases among students and staff to ODH on Tuesdays, reflecting the week ending on the previous Sunday. ODH releases numbers on Thursdays at 2 p.m.

Case criteria

  • Full-time or part-time students and staff who have tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19. Infections were caught in and out of school.
  • Staff members include teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff.
  • Excludes students/staff who are completely remote, but includes them if they were “on-site” while infectious.

  • ODH reports “new” and “cumulative” cases. Cases only move over to “cumulative” once the person is no longer COVID-positive. NBC4’s count of new cases every week reflects the change in “cumulative” cases. More info

    At this point last academic year, schools had reported just 1,870 cases among 543 schools (about 20%); numbers so low because of stricter mitigation protocols and more remote learning. It took until early December for half of schools last year to report a case.

    The median number of cases among schools with at least one infection is 13 cases, while the median number for school districts is 48 cases.

    45,281 (85%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 7,932 (15%) are staff members, which include teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff. Last school year, students were roughly 2 in 3 cases, and staff were 1 in 3.

    Cincinnati Public Schools, a district of more than 34,000 students, leads the state in cases with 1,490, ahead of Columbus City Schools with 689 and South-Western City Schools with 586. Five Franklin County districts are in the top 10.

    99.9% percent of Ohio’s public school students are in school five days a week, according to data tracked by the Ohio Department of Education. Only one school district is fully remote, and none are in a hybrid model.

    Just over 56% of students are in a district that requires masks for all students, and 13% learn where masks are required for some students. That leaves just over 3 in 10 Ohio public school students who go to school with masks optional.

    Ohio this week launched the Vax-2-School program, a drawing for vaccinated 12-25-year-olds to win one of 150 scholarships worth $10,000 or five $100,000 scholarships. The money would cover costs of any in-state higher education, including college, technical school, job training and postgraduate study.