COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – For the first time since October, Ohio’s K-12 schools reported fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a week.

The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported just 847 new cases of COVID-19 among students and staff members for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 21. That is the lowest weekly increase since 596 new cases on Oct. 8, the fourth week of reporting.

Back then, Ohio schools had tallied only 1,870 coronavirus cases for the academic year; the total is now 60,954. Just one month ago, ODH was reporting nearly 4,000 new cases a week.

Cumulative COVID-19 cases reported by Ohio schools:

  • Sept. 17: 319
  • Sept. 24: 739 (+420)
  • Oct. 1: 1,274 (+535)
  • Oct. 8: 1,870 (+596)
  • Oct. 15: 2,739 (+869)
  • Oct. 22: 3,826 (+1,087)
  • Oct. 29: 5,058 (+1,232)
  • Nov. 5: 7,068 (+2,010)
  • Nov. 12: 9,876 (+2,808)
  • Nov. 19: 14,593 (+4,717)
  • Nov. 26: 19,302 (+4,709)
  • Dec. 3: 23,052 (+3,750)
  • Dec. 10: 28,218 (+5,166)
  • Dec. 17: 33,499 (+5,281)
  • Dec. 24: 36,547 (+3,048)
  • Dec. 31: Data largely discrepant, likely due to lack of reporting over holidays
  • Jan. 7: 37,681 (+1,134 over two weeks)
  • Jan. 14: 44,216 (+6,535)
  • Jan. 21: 48,009 (+3,793)
  • Jan. 28: 51,908 (+3,899)
  • Feb. 4: 55,264 (+3,356)
  • Feb. 11: 58,171 (+2,907)
  • Feb. 18: 60,107 (+1,936)
  • Feb. 25: 60,954 (+847)

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

    1,527 (55%) of 2,774 schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions that the state tracks have reported cases. That is 20 more schools than last week.

    38,898 (64%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 22,056 (36%) are staff members, which include teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff.

    Cincinnati Public Schools, a district of more than 34,000 students, leads the state with 946 cases. Five Columbus area school districts are in the top seven.

    More classrooms open as vaccinations continue

    This week is the final week that school employees have begun vaccinations for the coronavirus. They include staff from schools in Crawford, Fairfield, Knox, Madison, Marion, Perry and Ross counties.

    Gov. Mike DeWine wants all schools that signed up for vaccinations to at least be in hybrid learning by March 1; however, a handful of large urban school districts – including Columbus, Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown – may not transition until later in March.

    “Our goal of getting everybody back in March 1 is not going to be fully completed,” the governor said Thursday at his coronavirus briefing, “but we've made a tremendous amount of progress.”

    Columbus City Schools announced Thursday that its students in grades 6-12 will phase into hybrid learning in mid-to-late March. Grades five and below have already returned to hybrid learning.

    “We will continue to work with the handful of schools that will not be able to meet the March 1 deadline,” DeWine added. “We would encourage them to get the kids back in school just as quick as they can.”

    Ten of Ohio’s 609 public school districts are still in fully remote learning, and another five are in a partial hybrid model. As of Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Education says 416 (68%) of districts are fully in person.