Stopping the Spread: Strong Partnership Kept COVID-19 Transmission At Bay During 2020-21

March 24, 2022

CPS, Cincinnati Health Department (CHD) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) formed an innovative partnership in 2020-21 that successfully minimized the spread of COVID-19 in our district.

CPS has more than 33,000 students and 6,000 employees. Out of 1,936 COVID-19 cases in students, teachers and staff during hybrid and in-person learning, only 3.2% of our COVID-19 cases resulted in probable or confirmed transmission in district settings.

We accomplished low transmissibility through three key tactics: 

Design Meetings and Daily Discussions

Following initial planning and design meetings, CPS, CHD and CCHMC huddled every day before school to discuss cases, escalate issues or challenges and share learnings as testing processes evolved throughout in-person learning.

School Testing, Isolation and Tracing

  • If a student felt sick, staff immediately sent them to an isolation room, where they were evaluated by a CHD school nurse. If necessary, the student took a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. (Each school had an assigned full-time CHD nurse!)
  • A courier collected testing swabs twice a day and took them to CCHMC for testing.
  • The goal was to ensure the test result was known by 6 a.m. the next day so that the principal, teachers and CHD nurse could identify close contacts and ask them to quarantine. The nurse also notified the student's families with the results.

In-school Safety Measures

Schools had strong health practices, such as universal masking, social distancing, grouping the same students together, frequently cleaning surfaces and washing hands. Students had health screenings every morning when they arrived at school. Teachers and staff were tested for COVID-19 before they returned to work in August and after students arrived in the classroom in the fall.

As we continue to focus on minimizing in-school transmission in 2021–22, our partnership is also improving vaccine access to our communities by hosting vaccine clinics.

Read more about our partnership's success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our white paper.