School data update, Sept. 20

  • The CDC was busy last week. In addition to their vaccination playbook, the agency released indicators for COVID-19 in schools intended to help school administrators make decisions about the safety of in-person learning. The indicators provide a five-tier system, from “lowest risk of transmission” (under 5 cases per 100,000 people, under 3% test positivity) to “highest risk” (over 200 cases per 100,000 people, over 10% test positivity). It is unclear what utility these guidelines will have for the many school districts that have already started their fall semesters, but, uh, maybe New York City can use them?
  • Speaking of New York: the state’s dashboard on COVID-19 in schools that I described in last week’s issue is now live. Users can search for a specific school district, then view case and test numbers for that district’s students and staff. At least, they should be able to; many districts, including New York City, are not yet reporting data. (The NYC district page reports zeros for all values as of my sending this issue.)
  • Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, is building its own dashboard, the Los Angeles Times reported last week. The district plans to open for in-person instruction in November or later, at which point all students and staff will be tested for COVID-19. Test results down to the classroom level will be available on a public dashboard.
  • Wisconsin journalists have stepped in to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, as the state has so far failed to report these data. A public dashboard available via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA Today Network allows users to see case counts and resulting quarantine and cleaning actions at K-12 schools across the state. Wisconsin residents can submit additional cases through a Google form.
  • According to the COVID Monitor, states that report K-12 COVID-19 case counts now include: ArkansasHawaiiKentuckyLouisianaMississippiNew HampshireOhioSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexas, and Utah. Some of these state reports are far more precise than others; Texas and Utah, for example, both report only total case counts. The COVID Monitor reports over 10,000 COVID-19 confirmed cases in K-12 schools as of September 20, with another 17,000 reported cases pending.
  • recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Michael Vasquez explains common issues with reporting COVID-19 cases on college and university campuses: inconsistencies across school dashboards, administrations unwilling to report data, and other challenges.

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