COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Health eased COVID-19 case reporting requirements for K-12 schools as infections continue to drop statewide and nationwide.

Starting Thursday, schools will only have to report positive tests conducted at school, ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said at a news conference.

Since 2020, schools had to report weekly infections among students and staff members regardless of who conducted the test or where they caught the infection. Schools would report those numbers to their local health department by Sunday, which would hand the data over to ODH to release on Thursdays.

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

    "As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, K-12 schools should continue to work closely with their local health departments to monitor the spread of the virus in their community," Vanderhoff said.

    He also said this change does not effect quarantine or isolation guidelines in its "Mask to Stay, Test to Play" rules, which were last updated in January.

    Students must wear a mask for 10 days after their last coronavirus exposure and isolate and get tested if they experience symptoms. To participate in extracurriculars, exposed students need to get tested immediately after they find out.

    K-12 schools reported 2,389 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the fourth straight week under 3,500 and the second-fewest of the entire school year. The total since classes began in August now stands at 246,828 cases.

    1,613 (58%) of the 2,769 schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions that ODH tracks have reported a case this school year. That number is unchanged since last week.

    The median number of cases among schools with at least one infection is 43 cases, while the median number for school districts is 202 cases.

    203,472 (82%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 43,356 (18%) 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 with 5,640 cases, ahead of Dublin City Schools with 3,881. Dublin is among five central Ohio districts in the top 10.

    All but one Ohio public school district is back to fully in-person learning, according to data last week tracked by the Ohio Department of Education. One district is in a hybrid model.

    Nearly 3 in 4 public school students — 74.5% — according to ODE, learn where masks are optional for all students. The other 25.5% go to school where masks are required for all or some students.