COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As Ohio continues to ride its largest wave of the coronavirus pandemic, schools in the state reported their largest weekly increase in COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 5,166 new cases of COVID-19 among K-12 students and staff members, eclipsing the previous weekly record of 4,717 set on Nov. 19. The total number of students and staff who have tested positive this school year is now 28,218.

Before Thursday’s record increase, week-to-week increases of COVID-19 in school communities had been trending down, with increases of 4,709 and 3,750 in the past two weeks.

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)

As of last Thursday, 364 of Ohio’s 609 public school districts were in a hybrid or fully remote learning model or were closed all week, according to the Ohio Department of Education. 185 were fully remote, including the state’s largest school district, Columbus City Schools, and the large urban districts of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron.

Case data is reported to ODH on Sundays to be published on Thursdays, so cases published Thursday reflect last week. (See more information on the data in the dropdown below).

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

    “A report of COVID-19 should not be interpreted as an indicator that a school district or school isn’t following proper procedures—school cases can be a reflection of the overall situation in the broader community,” the state’s dashboard of cases notes.

    17,143 (61%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 11,075 (39%) are staff members, which include teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff.

    1,387 Ohio schools have reported at least one coronavirus case this school year, an increase of 31 since last week. That is half of the 2,773 schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions the state tracks.

    Thirty-six schools have reported at least 100 cases and 127 schools have reported at least 50.

    Cincinnati Public Schools, a district of more than 36,000 students, leads the state with 486 cases. Five Columbus area school districts are in the top 10, including three in the top five.