DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– COVID-19 cases declined for the fourth consecutive week across the state, with hospitalizations also declining in the previous week.

Some Miami Valley health leaders say as cases are gradually declining, it’s created an ideal environment for students and staff to return to school. However, there’s always a cause for concern.

“The most important thing we’ve seen over the last several years is that kids are slipping in their grade levels, reading levels and their social-emotional learning so it’s very important to have kids in the classroom with their teachers and peers,” said Health Commissioner Clark County Combined Health District Charles Patterson.

COVID-19 cases are slowly declining for the 4th straight week across Ohio just in time for kids to return to the classroom. Some Miami Valley health leaders say they believe it’s the perfect time for students to return safely.

“What we may see is multiple people in one classroom infected or within a school a significant number of kids and teachers but it’s unlikely going to lead to this widespread community transmission that’s going to get us into trouble again,” said Miami Valley Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colon.

Even with COVID-19 cases gradually declining, Patterson believes some parents may still feel uncomfortable for their child to return to school with no precautions in place. But, safety is entirely in your control.

“I would prompt them to send their kids to school in a mask,” said Patterson. “We know it’s not a popular choice but there are going to be kids in every class and teachers who are deciding to mask because it helps us feel safer in the classroom environment.”

The coronavirus dashboard shows nearly 64-percent of all Ohioans have started the vaccination process.