COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio schools added by far their most coronavirus cases among students and staff in one week as the Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 869 new cases for a cumulative total of 2,739 this school year.

1,764 students have been reported to ODH to have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 975 staff members, which include teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff.

This week’s increase dwarfs last week’s record increase of 596 new cases. ODH has reported numbers every Thursday since Sept. 17.

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)

Thursday’s increase correlates with a major recent spike of COVID-19 cases across Ohio. The past two days have seen the state’s largest daily increases during this pandemic. Twenty-nine of 88 counties are now under the state’s red advisory level for “very high” exposure and spread, including Franklin County.

Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday during his coronavirus briefing that case increases in schools will mirror increases in the community.

Three public school districts in metro Columbus continue this week to lead the state in cumulative cases. Olentangy Local Schools (84), South-Western City Schools (63) and Dublin City Schools (49) rank 1-3.

662 public school districts, private schools, charter schools, vocational schools, preschools and other types of non-college institutions have reported at least one case as of Thursday. That’s up from 543 a week ago.

Dashboard differences

If your local school district has its own dashboard tracking coronavirus cases, it may show a different number than what ODH puts out.

ODH reports two figures for every school: “new” cases and “cumulative” cases. In some instances, the number of “new” cases will not equal the difference between a week’s cumulative cases and the previous week’s.

ODH’s “new” cases only become “cumulative,” once the person is no longer COVID-positive, said ODH spokesperson Melanie Amato. If someone is still positive for two weeks, for example, they won’t yet go into the cumulative total. Thus, “cumulative” cases are only people who are no longer COVID-positive.

Amato said schools report their cases to ODH on Tuesdays and ODH releases the numbers on Thursdays.

An individual district’s dashboard may show different totals for multiple reasons, including different reporting periods, definitions of who counts as a case, or including quarantined people in their totals. Amato suggested some schools may be updating cases more frequently than once a week.

ODH’s cases counts “include full-time or part-time students and staff members who have tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19,” according to its dashboard. Follow that link for more fine print on which cases ODH counts. Students and staff who are completely remote, for instance, are not included.

Olentangy Local Schools, for example, says it publishes data every Friday but the case numbers it sends to ODH are recent as of Sundays. That would mean ODH’s current cumulative case count for Olentangy, 84, is four days old.