MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s just gotten easier for Alabamians to see the number of COVID-19 cases in the state’s public school systems.
Friday, the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health rolled out a new COVID-19 dashboard that allows both departments, and the public to track the pandemic in each school district.
The dashboard covers the state’s K-12 schools, though only down to the district level, and allows school nurses the ability to update the data in their district on a weekly basis.
You won’t be able to see a specific school’s data on the dashboard. “These numbers will be reported by school system, not by individual school, to discourage using the process of elimination to determine who may be impacted by the virus,” said Lead School Nurse for the ALSDE, Jennifer Ventress.
ADPH and ALSDE said the data includes anyone in the specified school system affected by the illness but does not differentiate among students, teachers, and staff.
“We want to balance the privacy of students, faculty and staff with our wish to provide parents the best information about COVID-19 cases in their children’s school system,” added State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
“We are hoping that this dashboard will serve two primary purposes: keeping our parents and communities aware of what is happening in their schools so they can make informed decisions about their children; as well as make sure we are doing everything we can within the school building and school system to mitigate the instances of COVID-19 exposure,” said State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey.
Though the new dashboard allows the public a view of the disease as it pertains to school districts, ALSDE cautions that it is based on provisional data self-reported by local education agencies, or LEAs, and is subject to change.
“This data may be different than information reported by a school, district, or other entity due to timing of reporting or other factors,” the department said, adding “ALSDE and ADPH cannot concretely verify and makes no representation regarding the accuracy of the data presented.”
“It will not include things like contact tracing," Mackey said of the dashboard. "So you will have other students that may be two positive cases in a school system. There might be 20 people that are home on quarantine because of close contact, but the dashboard in that case is not going to report anything except the actual number.
Mackey also added, "numbers below five will not be reported because of federal privacy rules.”
The dashboard is available on both the state education and health agency websites.