COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Coronavirus cases reported by Ohio’s K-12 schools shot up this past week as regular reporting amounts resumed after winter break.

Schools reported 23,268 new cases to the Ohio Department of Health in the week ending Sunday, Jan. 9, the first week of the winter semester for most schools as they resumed classes after the holidays.

This week’s increase is by far the highest since NBC4 began tracking in mid-September.

Ohio K-12 schools have reported to ODH 159,350 total cases among students and staff members since the school year began. Infections were caught in and out of school.

Weekly COVID-19 cases reported by Ohio schools:

  • Sept. 17:  +10,682
  • Sept. 24:  +9,827
  • Oct. 1:  +7,564
  • Oct. 7:  +7,405
  • Oct. 14:  +6,289
  • Oct. 21:  +5,116
  • Oct. 28:  +4,660
  • Nov. 4:  +4,696
  • Nov. 11:  +5,348
  • Nov. 18:  +6,781
  • Nov. 24:  +6,668
  • Dec. 2:  +5,134
  • Dec. 9:  +10,190
  • Dec. 16:  +8,428
  • Dec. 23:  +9,984
  • Dec. 30:  +4,016
  • Jan. 6:  +5,559
  • Jan. 13:  +23,268

1,571 (57%) of the 2,769 schools, districts, private schools, vocational schools, preschools and other non-college institutions that ODH tracks have reported a case this school year. That’s eight more schools than last week.

The median number of cases among schools with at least one infection is 31 cases, while the median number for school districts is 141 cases.

131,172 (82%) of Ohio’s school cases are students and 28,178 (18%) 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 with 3,276 cases, ahead of the Cleveland and Columbus school districts with 2,806 and 2,079 cases, respectively. Columbus is among four Franklin County districts in the top eight.

As the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to heighten statewide case counts, some Ohio school districts have opted for hybrid or remote learning since returning from winter break.

83.7% of Ohio’s public school students are in school five days a week, according to Thursday data from the Ohio Department of Education. Sixty-four districts have opted to go hybrid or remote or extend winter break, which is more than double last week.

ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff told reporters Thursday that the health department continues to “strongly advocate for masking in schools” because of the scientific evidence that shows how they act as a barrier to infection.

54% of students are in a district that requires masks for all or some students, which is up slightly since last week. 46% of students learn where masks are optional.