Ohio’s new COVID dashboard shows 26 cases tied to local schools last week

Betty Clark, a custodian for Beavercreek schools, disinfects a preschool classroom with a chlorination gun. Beavercreek was listed as having five student COVID-19 cases last week among its 7,000-plus students. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Miami Valley public and private schools reported 26 student and staff cases of COVID-19 last week, but Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that doesn’t necessarily mean schools and students are doing anything wrong.

The Ohio Department of Health’s new school dashboard showed 156 student cases and 91 staff cases reported statewide from Sept. 7-13. That included 19 student cases and seven school staff cases in the Dayton area.

The dashboard is the result of an ODH order this month requiring schools to report cases to their county health department within 24 hours of learning of the situation.

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“The school can be doing absolutely everything right but the school’s going to reflect what’s going on in the community,” DeWine said, as Ohio continues to have about 1,000 new cases per day. “From what I can see talking to superintendents, and the reports I’m getting back from parents, I think schools are doing a very, very good job.”

According to the state dashboard, schools in Greene County reported eight COVID-19 cases from Sept. 7-13 -- five students in Beavercreek City Schools, one student and one staff member in Bellbrook’s public schools and one student at St. Luke school in Beavercreek.

Schools in Miami County reported seven total cases -- three students at Tipp City, one student at Piqua Catholic and two students at Piqua City Schools. The Piqua district also had one staff member test positive.

Students are back in class at the Fairmont Career Tech Center in Kettering. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

In Preble County, Eaton schools reported one staff member tested positive.

According to the dashboard, schools in northern Warren County listed five student COVID-19 cases and four school staff cases. Springboro public schools had two student cases and two staff cases, while CHESS Christian school in Springboro had one student case. Bishop Fenwick High School had two student cases and one staff case. Franklin City Schools had one staff case.

Also in Warren County but closer to Cincinnati, the large Mason district reported 11 student cases, the highest number of any individual school or district in Ohio.

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Only one case was listed Sept. 7-13 among schools in Montgomery County -- a student in Brookville schools. As opposed to other counties, most of Montgomery County’s largest schools (Dayton, Centerville, Kettering, Huber Heights, Northmont and others) began the year with students fully online.

The dashboard says cases involving students and staff who are working remotely are not included. So, for example, the student that Northmont schools said Tuesday had tested positive will not show up in next week’s dashboard, because the student is remote. But a Northmont staff member who did work in school buildings and tested positive should be in next week’s data.

Bellbrook High School started it's second first day of classes Tuesday, Aug. 18. All students and staff were wearing masked and practicing social distancing. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County, said COVID-19 definitely can be spread within a school or team atmosphere. He said that was true of the four cases tied to West Carrollton’s football team early this month.

“Nothing has changed about COVID (the virus) since it started,” he said. “The only thing that’s making it go up and down are the actions of people. The more you have no large crowds, wear your mask, do social distancing, wash your hands, the better your numbers will be. But if people see the numbers going down, sometimes they naturally relax ... and then the numbers pop back up again.”

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Dr. Patty Manning of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital spoke at Thursday’s press conference, repeating the information that while school-age children do get COVID-19, most generally do not get very sick with it. The bigger risk might come from a child passing it on to an older teacher or family member with risk factors.

DeWine emphasized that when schools report COVID-19 cases to local health officials, that’s a positive step that allows communities to trace cases. Asked about discrepancies between the state dashboard and some county data in northern Ohio, DeWine said the two data sets may not cover the same time period.

He also asked for patience with the new school dashboard.

“This thing went live today,” DeWine said. “There’s bound to be problems. We’re going to fix the problems. ... We have no incentive not to have accurate information.”

Editor’s note: On Thursday, ODH’s dashboard incorrectly linked the St. Luke Beavercreek case to a different school.

COVID-19 cases linked to local schools Sept. 7-13

Beavercreek: 5 students

Springboro: 2 students, 2 staff members

Tipp City: 3 students

Piqua: 2 students, 1 staff member

Bishop Fenwick: 2 students, 1 staff member

Bellbrook: 1 student, 1 staff member

Brookville: 1 student

Franklin: 1 staff member

Eaton: 1 staff member

St. Luke Beavercreek: 1 student

Piqua Catholic: 1 student

CHESS Christian: 1 student

Source: Ohio Department of Health

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