Ohio schools report record weekly increase in COVID-19 cases

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1,087 new cases bring total to nearly 4,000 this school year

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — On a day that Ohio reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases, it also reported a record number of new cases in schools.

The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 1,087 new cases of COVID-19 among students and school staff members in the past week, bringing the state’s total to 3,826 this school year. 2,413 cases are students (63%) and 1,413 cases are among staff members (37%).

In each of the six weeks that ODH has reported school data, the weekly increase in cases has been more than the previous week’s increase.

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)

ODH on Thursday also reported a record number of new daily coronavirus cases statewide, 2,425, continuing a sharp uptick in cases in the past four weeks. Deaths, however, have declined or stayed flat since late August.

Schools report cases to ODH on Tuesdays to be announced to the public on Thursdays. (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 number of large Central Ohio school districts this week continue to lead the state in cumulative cases. Olentangy Local Schools (96 cases), South-Western City Schools (76) and Dublin City Schools (64) rank 1-3.

    762 public districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions have reported at least one case this school year. That’s 100 more than last week, and it's more than 27% of the 2,774 schools that report to ODH.

    Note that the cases reported are only students and staff members who were physically on school grounds while infectious. So, schools that have been fully remote this year are likely to report few or even no cases.

    That’s why Ohio’s largest district, Columbus City Schools, with nearly 50,000 students, has reported just 19 cases to ODH while smaller districts have reported dozens more. Fifteen of Columbus’s cases are staff members and four are students.

    Gov. Mike DeWine noted in his Thursday coronavirus briefing that the large increase in school cases is not linked to “a significant amount of spread in schools themselves.”

    “We're really seeing the spread through society when people let their guard down,” he said. “I would ask our educators, I would ask our superintendents, take all that into consideration, and the same way with parents.”

    DeWine also expressed concern about students in districts that continue to hold school virtually. Columbus City Schools, for example, announced Tuesday that it will stay in remote learning through mid-January.

    “While some students will thrive no matter how they're taught, it would seem there are many students who don't,” DeWine said. “There are students who don't thrive in a remote learning situation. … I'm bothered, as the governor, frankly by kids being out of school that long."

    A record 38 Ohio counties moved into or stayed in the state’s red health advisory level on Thursday for “very high” exposure and spread. Only four counties remain at the lowest level with “active” exposure and spread, while the other 46 have “increased.”

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