COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – COVID-19 cases in Ohio schools continue to decline as the Delta variant wave crests and more schools implement mask mandates.

K-12 schools reported 6,289 new cases this week to the Ohio Department of Health, bringing the school year total to 59,502. This week’s increase is the lowest since NBC4 started tracking in mid-September, around when the Delta wave peaked.

Weekly COVID-19 cases reported by Ohio’s K-12 schools:

  • Sept. 17:  +10,682
  • Sept. 24:  +9,827
  • Oct. 1:  +7,564
  • Oct. 7:  +7,405
  • Oct. 14:  +6,289

Cases reported to ODH are as of the previous Sunday, so Thursday’s case total is current to Oct. 10.

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

    Just over half of the 2,766 schools that ODH tracks have reported at least one case this school year, which is two months in. 1,408 (51%) of schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college have reported a case. That’s 24 more schools than last week.

    The median number of cases among schools with at least one infection is 13 cases, while the median number for school districts is 54 cases.

    50,601 (85%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 8,901 (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 1,594, ahead of Columbus City Schools at 792. Columbus is among five Franklin County districts in the top nine.

    Dayton data shows mask effectiveness

    99.8% of Ohio’s public school students are in school five days a week as of last Thursday, according to the latest data available from 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.

    “Many more schools over the course of the past weeks have implemented masking policies,” ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff told reporters Thursday.

    Dayton Children’s Hospital, in conjunction with the Dayton/Montgomery County health department, has been comparing data on COVID-19 in area schools between those that have mask mandates and those that leave them optional.

    “In the last several weeks, since many schools have been trying to help out by going to mandatory masking mandates, we have found that the incidence of COVID in those schools has decreased by 67%,” Dayton Children’s Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Adam Mezoff told reporters.

    But in the schools that are not mandatory masking, Mezoff said, cases have gone up 30%.