Ohio K-12 schools report lowest weekly increase in COVID-19 cases in 6 months


Jennifer Becker, center, Science Teacher, at the Sinaloa Middle School while masked talks her students who are distanced at their desks in Novato, Calif., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The school reopened Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Haven Daily)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohio’s K-12 schools on Thursday reported their lowest weekly increase in COVID-19 cases since Oct. 8, tallying just 797 new cumulative cases among students and staff members.

Thursday’s data from the Ohio Department of Health reflects the week ending Sunday, April 4. This week’s data continues a general flattening trend of new cases over the past month in which no week saw fewer than 1,100 new cases. The lower increase this week, though, may be partially attributable to some schools being on spring break.

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

    The school year total now stands at 69,430 cases.

    1,554 (56%) of 2,774 schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions that the state tracks have reported cases. That is two more schools since last week.

    45,704 (66%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 23,726 (34%) are staff members, which include teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff.

    Cincinnati Public Schools, a district of more than 34,000 students, continues to lead the state in cases with 1,101. Six Columbus area school districts are in the top 10, including five in the top seven.

    Prom, graduation and school vaccinations

    Updated state health orders on Monday from Gov. Mike DeWine brought guidance for prom and graduation ceremonies.

    Schools are encouraged to hold proms outside or in well-ventilated facilities, and students are required to maintain social distance. Graduation ceremonies are recommended to be outside with proper social distancing, and ceremonies inside will be limited to 25% capacity.

    Also on Monday, DeWine said he asked local health departments to work with schools to offer Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to 16- to 18-year-olds. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one in the United States approved for people as young as 16. Minors would need permission slips from parents to get vaccinated.

    Columbus Public Health, for example, is working with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to vaccinate students 16 and older in Worthington and Westerville schools, starting Tuesday. And Canal Winchester High School is holding a vaccination clinic on April 23.

    498 (82%) of Ohio’s 609 public school districts are back to in-person learning five days a week, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

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