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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Summit County Public Health Recommends Schools Begin Year Online

summit health chart
Of the three options for Summit County schools, all online, a hybrid of online and in person or 100 percent in person, Summit County Public Health says online classes will be safest.

With cases of COVID-19 still rising across the county, Summit County Public Health on Monday recommended that schools conduct classes online this fall rather than in person.

The health department also issued guidance to help schools respond to the pandemic.

Of the three options for schools - all online, a hybrid of online and in person or 100 percent in person - the health department says online classes will be safest.

Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says if schools choose any amount of in-person instruction, they have to adhere to strict guidelines.

Credit YouTube
Health Commissioner Donna Skoda

“We strongly encourage that if you’re doing anything together,” Skoda said, “there has to be mandatory masking, a rigorous cleaning schedule and social distancing of at least 6 feet as much as possible.”

In the past two weeks, Summit County’s seven-day average for positive cases has numbered six to nine cases per 100,000, per day. Communities that are successfully opening schools average three cases per 100,000.

From mid-June to mid-July, Summit County cases jumped from about nine per day to 37. For the entire month of July, the seven-day average for new cases increased from about 24 to 49 cases per day.

And over the past two weeks, there were 117 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. That’s more than twice the rate that indicates wide community spread, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Public health reports 271 kids and teens in Summit County have tested positive for the virus but the availability of testing children is limited.

The vast majority of all recent cases of COVID-19 in the county are from community spread, from interaction in things like sports, Skoda said. The health department recommends schools delay inter-team sports until October 1.

“We’ve also seen multiple outbreaks with reported COVID cases in coaching, attending practices and other activities such as dance, cheerleading and multiple teams,” Skoda said.

The health department’s guidance for schools includes self-monitoring how-tos, step by step directives for positive cases, and directions for those returning to school after the illness.

See the health department's recommendations for schools and families below. 


Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.