Some area school districts expect to resume extracurricular activities, including sports, this week.
LaBrae schools Superintendent A.J. Calderone said he expects sports teams to resume practices no later than the end of the school day today. Lakeview Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor, too, said her district will begin extracurricular activities today.
William Nicholson, Warren schools athletic director, said the approximately 175 student athletes who participate in the district’s basketball, swimming and bowling teams also will have the opportunity to begin skills training starting today.
Trumbull County school districts agreed Nov. 24 to follow guidelines set by the Trumbull County Combined Health District to end extracurriculars for 28 days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That agreement ends today.
Since the moratorium has not been extended, area school districts are expected to allow their sports teams to begin skill training and team practices.
Lakeview teams began skills training on Saturday, Taylor said. Actual practices will begin today.
Ron DeJulio, Lakeview schools athletic director, said the teams being immediately impacted are boys and girls basketball, swimming and diving, bowling and cheerleading.
“I will be speaking to the coaches and the students,” DeJulio said. “This is affecting approximately 65 of our student-athletes. We want to do this right, so we will be able to complete their seasons.”
DeJulio said all of the Trumbull County schools in the Northeast-8 Conference — Girard, Niles, Howland and Lakeview — are expected to resume their conditioning and team practicing. They are expected to compete with other school districts that did not have moratoriums for their conference championships.
Nicholson said skills training in Warren schools will take place for the remainder of this week. “Conditioning will be a high priority,” Nicholson said.
Warren students initially will be returning in small groups, no more than two at a time. Next week, after Christmas, team practices will begin, where full squads will be able to practice together, Nicholson said.
Safety is the district’s top concern, Nicholson emphasized. The district will practice all of the COVID-19 protocols it had been following prior to the moratorium.
“There will be quotas,” he said. “No more than 12 students will be allowed in the gym at a time.
“Fortunately, we have two full gyms with six basketball hoops each,” Nicholson said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mike DeWine is urging Ohioans not to have gatherings for Christmas and New Year’s Eve in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
DeWine said Monday that data shows people in Ohio “greatly reduced their travel and contacts with others over Thanksgiving. Compared to last year, there was a 60 to 70 percent reduction in the number of contacts people had over the holiday. Some did hold traditional Thanksgiving gatherings, which resulted in some COVID-19 spread, but those appear to be exceptions. Most Ohioans did well (to) limit gatherings.”
Ohio Department of Health statistics, however, show newly reported COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving — reported cases lag behind actual cases by a few weeks to a couple of months — to be at the highest levels since the pandemic started in mid-March.
Even so, DeWine said Monday: “It’s critical that we keep up the work we started during Thanksgiving for the next several weeks to prevent another surge in January. If we can get through Christmas and New Year’s without a significant surge, we will be much better positioned to start 2021 against the virus.”
With vaccinations underway, DeWine said: “The end of this pandemic is nearing.”
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, ODH’s chief medical officer, said: “Adding a post-holiday spike would create a terrible situation (at hospitals), so we can’t let ourselves be lulled into a sense of complacency as we move into the next two-week period — the biggest holiday season on our calendar.”
But only 21 days into December, Ohio broke its record for most newly reported COVID-19 cases in a month with 208,291.
The previous record was 205,366 in November. There were 61,710 reported cases in October and 30,830 reported cases in October in Ohio.
The latest ODH data shows that 84 of the state’s 88 counties had at least 500 new cases per 100,000 people between Dec. 6 and Saturday.
Mahoning had 923.1 cases per 100,000 residents, the 33rd-most of any county in the state.
Columbiana County had 752.8 cases per 100,000 residents, the 63rd-most in the state, while Trumbull County had 738.5 cases per 100,000, the 65th-most.
The state had 6,548 newly reported COVID-19 cases Monday, below the 9,919 average for the past 21 days. But DeWine said numbers from weekend reporting tend to be the lowest of the week.
There were 75 newly reported COVID-19 deaths in Ohio with none in the Mahoning Valley, according to ODH. However, the Trumbull County Combined Health District reported five deaths Monday and the Columbiana County Health District reported three.
There were 58 COVID-19 deaths reported last week in the Valley with 52 of them in Trumbull and six in Columbiana counties.
It was the most reported COVID-19 deaths in the Mahoning Valley for a week since the start of the pandemic. The previous record was 53 during the week of May 3. A week before the record, there were 19 reported COVID-19 deaths in the three counties.
ODH reported 629,354 total COVID-19 cases Monday with 454,354 presumed recovered and 8,122 deaths.
The state’s positivity rate for the last seven days is 13.9 percent.
ODH reported 13,122 total cases Monday in Mahoning County with 9,062 presumed recovered and 311 deaths. There hasn’t been a newly reported COVID-19 death in the county since Dec. 10.
The state department listed 9,781 total cases Monday in Trumbull County with 7,008 presumed recovered and 230 deaths.
For the past few weeks, there’s been a large difference in reporting with ODH listed more cases and fewer deaths than the county’s combined health district.
ODH caught up with the county district over the weekend in the number of COVID-19 deaths in Trumbull, but the district reported five more deaths Monday that ODH didn’t list. Also as of Monday, the county district is reporting 9,200 total cases — 581 fewer than the state.
The state listed 5,538 total COVID-19 cases Monday in Columbiana County with 4,041 presumed recovered and 116 deaths. The county’s health district reported 5,552 cases with 119 deaths.