CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga County Board of Health said Thursday that local schools should switch to fully virtual classroom environments to begin the year due to elevated risks posed by the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.
The Board also recommended that schools suspend extracurricular activities, like sports, band. theater and choir. The board said they do not believe students will be able to take part in these activities with facial coverings and social distancing in place and they believe activities like band and choir could increase the spread of the virus through respiratory droplets. The board of health said they believe allowing these activities would likely increase the spread of the virus to the general community.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health will hold a press conference Friday afternoon.
The recommendations arose from weeks of discussion with state, community and school officials, who considered factors like the prevalence of the disease, testing capacity, hospital resources and school district infrastructures.
On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 1,733 new COVID-19 cases—a new single day record, and 20 more fatalities.
A press release by the Board read, in part: “During our conversations about COVID-19 activity in Cuyahoga County, these critical factors have been repeatedly analyzed and considered: Average number of daily cases – this number more than tripled between mid-June and mid-July
-Community capacity to test children – this is currently very limited
-Hospital activity – they continue to experience increasing levels of outpatient visits and hospitalizations, including intensive care admissions, related to COVID-19
-Non-congregate settings - a high percentage of recent cases have occurred in non-congregate settings
-Number of cases – local activity has been identified as being in the “high incidence” category by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
-Ohio Public Health Advisory System – we are currently rated as Level 3/Red. Only Level 4/Purple is higher in terms of risk for transmission of COVID-19
-Positivity rates as shown by testing – these have been climbing over the last month
-School-related settings - we have investigated multiple reports of clusters of cases in sports and other “return to play” activities”