Fewer schools in-person, but COVID cases still high

New COVID-19 cases reported by K-12 schools last week rose back to pre-Thanksgiving week levels, according to the Ohio Department of Health, despite numerous school districts moving classes online.

The state’s weekly school coronavirus dashboard showed 4,807 new student and staff cases reported statewide Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, roughly matching the two weeks before Thanksgiving, both of which were between 4,500 and 4,950 new cases.

Dayton-area school numbers followed the same trend, with the 471 new cases reported last week tracking close to results from the weeks of Nov. 9 and Nov. 16. Case numbers dipped for the Thanksgiving week itself, as schools were in session two days at most.

On one hand the new numbers could be seen as a positive, because they didn’t rocket to all-time highs the week after Thanksgiving. On the other hand, large school districts including Dayton, Centerville, Kettering, Miamisburg and others moved to online classes just before or after Thanksgiving, which some had hoped would push numbers down.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday urged Ohioans to stay vigilant to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

“These next several weeks will be the toughest yet,” DeWine said. “We’re heading into the biggest holiday season on our calendar, while riding the biggest wave of COVID-19 that we’ve had so far.”

Schools change schedules

Schools also continue to adjust their in-person models on a near daily basis.

** Stebbins High School in the Mad River district will go fully remote starting Friday and stay that way through Jan. 15. The district’s other schools will keep going in-person 2-3 days a week.

** Brookville High School will be online only Monday and Tuesday, as Superintendent Tim Hopkins said “a much larger number of students have been quarantined through contact tracing” recently, including three athletic teams.

** Northmont schools announced the first week after Christmas break will be fully online, and Valley View will do the first two weeks after break online.

“Rather than adopting a “wait and see” approach, I would rather give our entire community as much notice as possible to make necessary arrangements,” Valley View Superintendent Ben Richards told families this week.

** On the other side, some Miami East students will get back to school more. District officials said there has been a decrease in cases in grades K-5, so those students will return to an every-day in-person schedule next week, while older grades remain in hybrid mode.

State dashboard data

As usual, there were some questions about data accuracy in the ODH dashboard.

Thursday’s state file shows virtually no new cases last week from schools in Warren County. But Dustin Ratliff, emergency response coordinator for the Warren County Health District, confirmed there was a reporting glitch and supplied the Dayton Daily News with the correct data.

Local school districts that reported the highest number of new COVID cases Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 were Springboro with 39 cases (27 students and 12 staff), Northmont with 25 (18 and 7), Beavercreek with 25 (14 and 11), and Lebanon with 22 (15 and 7).

Springboro’s 27 new student cases last week were tied for the eighth-highest total for any district in the state. Their 12 new staff cases were also in Ohio’s top 20.

Schools also continued to handle case reporting differently while in remote learning mode. The state health order does not require schools to report cases involving students who are completely remote, but some still do. Others report only cases of remote students who are involved with athletics or other on-site activities.

The Fairborn, Dayton and Trotwood districts, which do not currently have students in school, all reported zero new student cases last week. Miamisburg, Centerville and Kettering, which are also online, reported 12, 8 and 5 new student cases respectively.

Local public school districts reporting the most COVID cases last week

39 — Springboro (27 students, 12 staff)

25 — Northmont (18 students, 7 staff)

25 — Beavercreek (14 students, 11 staff)

22 — Lebanon (15 students, 7 staff)

21 — Miamisburg (12 students, 9 staff)

18 — Centerville (8 students, 10 staff)

17 — Milton-Union (14 students, 3 staff)

16 — Oakwood (13 students, 3 staff)

15 — Troy (14 students, 1 staff)

15 — Piqua (10 students, 5 staff)

14 — Tecumseh (10 students, 4 staff)

13 — Kettering (5 students, 8 staff)

12 — Waynesville (10 students, 2 staff)

11 — Mad River (9 students, 2 staff)

11 — Tipp City (9 students, 2 staff)

Local private schools reporting the most COVID cases last week

6 — Carroll High School (4 students, 2 staff)

5 — Incarnation Centerville (2 students, 3 staff)

5 — Troy Christian (3 students, 2 staff)

4 — St. Charles Kettering (3 students, 1 staff)

3 — Dayton Christian (2 students, 1 staff)

3 — Alter High School (1 student, 2 staff)

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