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)
- COVID-19 in schools data: still bad!In addition to the FiveThirtyEight story, I also had an article come out this week in The Grade, Alexander Russo’s column at KappanOnline. This piece takes a deep dive into Burbio, the company that has become a leading source for data on how COVID-19 impacted K-12 schools across the U.S—in the absence of comprehensive data on this topic from the federal government.
- Why Utah’s innovative school COVID-19 testing program failedMy latest story with the Documenting COVID-19 project is an investigation into Utah’s school COVID-19 testing program, in collaboration with the Salt Lake Tribune. We investigated with a once-innovative program failed in fall 2021.
- As Omicron hits schools, K-12 data void is wider than everTwo years into the pandemic, you might think that, by now, schools would have figured out a strategy to continue teaching kids while keeping them safe from the coronavirus. Instead, the school situation is more chaotic than ever. Thousands of schools went online or closed entirely this week, likely more than in any other week since spring 2020. And yet: there is currently no national data source tracking COVID-19 cases in schools, and nine states fail to report any data on this crucial topic.
- 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.