Butler County schools pass 1,000 COVID-19 student cases this academic year

Area school leaders say they continue to closely work with local and county health officials as they report and monitor the overall rising numbers of coronavirus variant cases in Butler and Warren counties – as well as across Ohio. It’s literally a day-by-day situation of high vigilance, say Butler and Warren county  school officials. (File Photo\Journal-News)
Caption
Area school leaders say they continue to closely work with local and county health officials as they report and monitor the overall rising numbers of coronavirus variant cases in Butler and Warren counties – as well as across Ohio. It’s literally a day-by-day situation of high vigilance, say Butler and Warren county school officials. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Butler County schools and districts reported more than 330 new COVID-19 cases among students in the previous week.

The Ohio Department of Health reports cases among students and staff each Thursday from the previous week, and Butler County passed 1,000 student cases this school year in Thursday’s report. There have now been 1,039 cases among students and 172 cases among staff members.

The county’s largest district, Lakota, had the most new student cases in Thursday’s report, with 65, which is about 40% of the 164 student cases reported this year for the district. The other districts reporting the most student cases on Thursday included Fairfield (50), Hamilton (42), Monroe (33) and Ross (26).

State weekly figures, however, have consistently differed from local district’s own tallies often complied in conjunction with local or the Butler County Health Department.

According to Lakota’s COVID-19 dashboard on its website, the number of student infections for the same period were 57 rather than 65 and staff infections numbered eight rather than nine.

State totals had Fairfield at 50 new student infections in the last week and 13 for staff but Fairfield’s dashboard lists 46 student cases and three for staff.

School officials began compiling and displaying their district dashboards at the beginning of last school year and urge school families to go to the sites often for updates on the latest, local school system – and school building – infection totals.

“When comparing Lakota’s numbers to those of neighboring districts, it’s important to keep in mind the number of students in our schools,” said Betsy Fuller, Lakota Schools spokeswoman. “Lakota has 17,000 students enrolled in our schools and about 16, 650 of them are attending school in person. Given that our dashboard is updated on Friday afternoons, the state’s reporting for Lakota is fairly accurate.

“While our positive COVID cases may be increasing, it certainly isn’t isolated to just our district - this is happening throughout our region and our state. You must consider the fact that we are not seeing classroom spread. Of the 161 positive cases reported on our Sept. 10 dashboard, we have only seen eight quarantined students turn positive and they were all close contacts at lunch when masks are not worn.”

The issue of quarantining students has been a passionate one this school year, with some disagreement about what circumstances should lead to a student quarantine, especially of that student has been vaccinated or has been wearing a mask.

“Since the start of the school year, we have quarantined 471 students,” Fuller said. “However, 1,227 students who were identified as close contacts to positive cases have not had to quarantine because we require masks in the classroom.”

Gov. Mike DeWine said wearing masks in the classroom is the best way to keep children in school.

“It is abundantly clear, by what we’ve seen in the first two, three weeks of school, that the way you keep kids in school is to keep them masked,” DeWine said Tuesday during a press conference. “Vaccinate them if you can vaccinate them, if they are 12 and above, and then if they’re not vaccinated, have them wear a mask.”

Cases reported on the school dashboard lag one week, meaning those reported Thursday were from Sept. 6-12.

The dashboard tracks cases of COVID-19 in all public and private K-12 schools across the state. Data displayed on the board includes all student and staff cases broken into new and cumulative categories. The board is updated Thursdays.