Many school districts across the nation will once again open for in-person instruction later this month. But data on how COVID-19 spreads in schools remain inadequate.
At the request of one of my readers, I’ve updated my annotations of state K-12 data reporting, first published on December 6. The annotations are posted on a new resource page, which also includes notes on the four major national sources for COVID-19 school data. I’ll be updating this page every two weeks.
Here’s how the state data stand, as of January 1:
- 34 states and the District of Columbia are reporting COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools, in some form
- 7 states are reporting incomplete data on school outbreaks or cases in school-aged children
- 20 states are separating out school case counts by students and staff
- 5 states are reporting deaths linked to school outbreaks
- 1 state is reporting COVID-19 tests conducted for school students and staff (New York)
- 2 states are reporting in-person enrollment (New York and Texas)
- The challenges of routine COVID-19 testing in schoolsAt this point in the pandemic, we know that routine COVID-19 testing can be a key tactic for reducing transmission in communal settings. If you identify cases as soon as they occur through asymptomatic testing, you can quickly isolate those cases and quarantine their contacts—preventing the cases from turning into outbreaks. This strategy works everywhere from kindergarten classrooms to the NBA.
- Opening project conclusion: 11 lessons from the schools that safely reopenedIn the COVID-19 Data Dispatch’s “Opening” series, we profiled five school communities that successfully reopened during the 2020-2021 school year. Through exploring these success stories, we found that the schools used many similar strategies to build trust with their communities and keep COVID-19 case numbers down.
- Fall 2021 school reopening: Stats so farThe COVID-19 Data Dispatch has, clearly, been pretty focused on school reopening in recent weeks. But our “Opening” project is primarily retrospective, looking back at schools that were successful last school year. This fall, the Delta variant and additional political pressures have made reopening success even harder to achieve.
- Opening profile: Going above and beyond in Crown Heights, BrooklynP.S. 705 went above and beyond New York City school reopening guidance, with a particular reliance on the city’s surveillance testing program. This elementary school had a 55% enrollment by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, above the city’s average of about 40%, and made it through the year with just 11 total cases — and zero closures.