Week in Review > Week in Review 8-26-2022Posted by Thomas Perkins on August 26th, 2022
As communities across the country grapple with an uptick in the number of students experiencing mental health and behavioral health issues, local experts say the problem is particularly acute in the Appalachian region where resources, like Internet access, transportation, and mental health services, are scarce. Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties, which stretch from Lake Erie, down the state’s eastern border, and to the west to the suburbs of Cincinnati on the Ohio River, are among some of the poorest areas in Ohio. According to a 2019 study from the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health, if the Appalachian counties were combined into a single state, it would be the second-most economically depressed state in the country. During Monday’s Legislative Children’s Caucus meeting, members heard from Robin Harris, the executive director of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs Counties; Stephanie Starcher, superintendent of the Fort Frye Local School District in Southeast Ohio; and Randy Leite, executive director of the Appalachian Children Coalition.
As students continue to deal with pandemic induced learning loss and economic difficulties, WalletHub recently released its 2022 ranking of states with the most at-risk youth. The financial advisory website used a number of metrics for the analysis, ranking all 50 states and the District of Columbia on factors like the share of “disconnected” youth, meaning those who are not attending school or working and have no degree beyond high school; the rate of poverty for people 18 to 24 years old; the rate of teen pregnancy; the rate of detained or incarcerated youth; and the share of homeless youth, among others.
WalletHub also analyzed the states on health factors like the share of youth, those 18 to 24 years old, who report heavy drinking and depression, as well as illicit drug use.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Thursday, Aug. 25 reported 23,436 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, down from the 24,067 reported on Aug. 18. This continues a declining trend that began in the Aug. 4 data, when cases fell from 29,876 to 27,785. Reported hospitalizations fell from 665 to 604, while ICU admissions remained at 36. In Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) data, there are currently 1,242 hospital patients who tested positive and 205 ICU patients. That compares to 1,198 hospital patients and 174 ICU patients on Aug. 18. The number of deaths reported by ODH Thursday ticked up slightly from 90 to 96. Since the pandemic began, ODH has reported 3,049,546 cases, 124,151 hospitalizations, 14,055 ICU admissions and 39,406 deaths.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) launched a dashboard on monkeypox cases statewide and by county Thursday, along with an FAQ page. Both are available at https://tinyurl.com/28utcruk. The dashboard is modeled after others used for past infectious disease outbreaks. There have been 147 confirmed cases in 19 counties, with Cuyahoga County leading at 69 and Franklin County second at 33. The others have less than 10 cases each. The dashboard lists nine hospitalizations and no reported deaths. The age range for cases is 19 to 64 years, and 96.6 percent of those who tested positive are men.
The state is now accepting applications for $53 million in school safety grants, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday. The funding is part of the DeWine administration’s $100 million Ohio K-12 School Safety Grant Program, according to the governor’s office. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), in partnership with the Ohio School Safety Center, is encouraging more than 4,000 eligible public schools, districts and chartered non-public schools statewide to apply for the grant opportunity. Applicants can request up to $100,000 per school building to cover expenses associated with physical security enhancements such as security cameras, public address systems, automatic door locks, visitor badging systems and exterior lighting.
This school year’s seniors are the first students who’ll need to meet the latest graduation criteria adopted in 2019 in order to graduate from high school. In the DeWine administration’s first biennial budget, 133-HB166 (Oelslager), lawmakers scaled back the number of end-of-course exams high school students must pass while creating a system of graduation “seals” reflecting various specializations for students to choose among. The graduation seals system was proposed by a business-education coalition including Ohio Excels, the Alliance for High Quality Education and the Fordham Institute. The system replaced an earlier set of criteria that provided three pathways based on exam scores, demonstration of college readiness or pursuit of work credentials. The new system taking full effect with the class of 2023 has three basic elements: completion of required credits and coursework; demonstration of competency in math and English; and earning at least two graduation seals, one of which must be a seal with state-designated requirements. The classes of 2021 and 2020 had the option to use these new requirements or the previous ones. Students need to earn at least 20 high school credits, including four apiece in English and math; one-half credit apiece in health and physical education; and three apiece in science and social studies.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a plan to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000, and $20,000 for people who went to college with a Pell Grant. Biden also extended the pause on student loan repayments through Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. The pause had been set to expire on Wednesday, Aug. 31. The decision could offer some level of forgiveness to as many as 43 million borrowers, including cancelling the full remaining balance for about 20 million borrowers, according to the White House. Eligible borrowers must have individual incomes below $125,000 and below $250,000 for married couples. The loan forgiveness does not apply to individuals with private loans. Current students are also eligible for the forgiveness, though if they are dependents their debt relief will be based on their parents’ income rather than their own.
TREASURER OF STATE
The ResultsOHIO initiative proposed by Treasurer Robert Sprague, a pay-for-success model where private funders pay upfront costs and are reimbursed if projects fulfill expectations, reported success Wednesday with iSee, an effort to take vision screenings and eyeglasses to children in Appalachia. A partnership among the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, Vision to Learn and the Ohio Optometric Foundation, iSee took mobile vision clinics to schools in Appalachian counties, providing vision screenings, eye exams and new prescription glasses. An independent evaluation by the University Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center of performance in the 2021-2022 academic year found the project surpassed benchmarks related to students who were provided eye exams and those who received new glasses. The project will continue in 2022-2023. During the project, 1,841 students received an eye exams at the 10 schools districts served, a rate of 95 percent of those students served, compared to the payment benchmark of 90 percent.
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