The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, September 24, 2020 1:00 am

State schools tracking virus

36 taking part in national dashboard to get fuller picture

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Thirty-six Indiana schools are participating in a nationwide effort to track school coronavirus cases as the state develops a similar dashboard.

Along with providing the number of confirmed and suspected cases in students and staff, the National COVID-19 School Response Dashboard offers such information as schools' coronavirus mitigation strategies and their learning models, including in-person and fully remote classes.

The resource is the result of a partnership among national education organizations, researchers and technology experts.

It's too early to draw conclusions from the dashboard, which launched Wednesday with representation from most states, but its data should become more useful as participation grows, officials said.

Superintendents began the academic year with inadequate access to broad, nationwide data reporting the realities of COVID-19 in schools, said Daniel Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

“We are proud to be a partner in this effort, to respond to a critical need, and to be able to share a robust set of locally reported data that will help district leaders and school principals answer questions critical to ensuring their staff and students are safe in school,” Domenech said in a statement.

Participation is free, and no individual school or district is identified publicly. Developers plan to send participants confidential school-level reports, however.

A map of schools by state indicated Wednesday that Indiana, Washington and Maine are leading participation with each having at least 30 schools involved. Schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware and South Carolina have not submitted information, the map showed.

Morcease Beasley, a superintendent in Georgia, said the national data can help the public understand local decisions.

“You can hopefully keep those discussions grounded in the data and away from the politics, which I think only complicates and muddies the conversation,” Beasley said Wednesday during a webinar about the dashboard.

Hoosier schools also may participate in a similar statewide effort.

The Indiana school virus dashboard hasn't launched – officials hope that happens in the next week or so – but State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box on Wednesday provided the first historical snapshot of school COVID-19 cases. More than 2,000 schools, or about 70%, have inputted data showing 1,348 positive student cases; 274 positive teacher cases and 276 positive staff cases.

The state dashboard will be updated weekly, and when it is fully functional, Hoosiers can search by school building.

Because the reporting by schools is voluntary, the state dashboard numbers won't fully capture cases.

asloboda@jg.net

Niki Kelly of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

At a glance

• Go to covidschooldashboard.com to view or enroll in the National COVID-19 School Response Dashboard


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