COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohio’s K-12 schools reported 9,827 new coronavirus cases among students and staff members this week, pushing the total just over a month into the school year near 40,000.
Schools have reported 38,244 cases this year, and Thursday’s 9,827 cases is close to last week’s 10,682. Cases reported to the Ohio Department of Health reflect the week ending the previous Sunday.
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.
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
1,301 (47%) of 2,767 schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions that the state tracks have reported cases this fall. That’s 89 more schools than last week.
The median number of cases among schools with at least one infection is 10 cases, while the median number for school districts is 33 cases.
32,466 (85%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 5,778 (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 663, well above second-place Toledo City Schools at 435. Four Columbus area school districts are in the top eight.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said 61% of Ohio’s public school students are in a district that requires mask wearing, nearly double what it was three weeks ago (about 31%). Ohio continues to “make progress” in that area, he said, but case numbers are “shocking.”
“Since Aug. 15, there have been over 42,000 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 among school age kids in Ohio, ages 5-17,” the governor told reporters. “The 27 days with the highest number of cases per day throughout our entire pandemic for children 5-17 have been since school began this year."
DeWine has said he would like to take executive action to require masks in schools, but a state law passed this summer after overriding DeWine’s veto – Senate Bill 22 – stripped that power from the governor and gave it to the state legislature.
The governor did take action on Thursday, though, announcing a vaccine incentive program for students, similar to May’s Vax-A-Million lottery.
The Vax-to-School program will offer 55 scholarships – five worth $100,000 and 50 worth $10,000 – to any vaccinated Ohioan aged 12-25 to cover costs of any higher education. That includes college, technical school, job training and postgraduate study. More details on these drawings will be announced next week.
ODH data DeWine referenced Thursday show the youngest age groups are the least vaccinated, including fewer than 39% of Ohioans aged 12-15 and less than 50% of those 16-29.
Here is a look at the breakdown of Ohio's vaccinations. Governor DeWine says those younger Ohioans have the largest room to grow and they are the people the state fears will miss out on in person learning. @nbc4i pic.twitter.com/bsR6cPF8Iz— Adrienne Robbins (@ARobbinsTV) September 23, 2021
“It’s worth it,” the governor said of the Vax-to-School program. “We’ve got to throw the football. We’ve got to try to make something happen. We’ve got to move our numbers up.”