Dept. of Education to release COVID-19 positive cases in schools on new online platform

Posted at 3:25 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 23:53:54-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee announced that the Department of Education will release COVID-19 information from schools on a new online platform.

During the Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn explained that each district will report positive COVID-19 cases on the new online dashboard along with additional information about each district's learning options.

It will display information on the district level as well as the school level. From districts, the platform will report the number of new positive COVID-19 cases in students and staff. It will also show the primary operating model for schools within the district, including the number of schools conducting in-person learning, the number of schools conducting remote learning, and the number of schools utilizing a hybrid approach for instruction.

It will also display whether the district has adopted a critical infrastructure designation for certain workers, as well as a link to the district’s Continuous Learning Plan (CLP) which outlines how the district plans to administer remote learning.

From the school level the platform will show whether adjustments from the district’s primary operating model have been made within the school. It will also show district-reported information on the number of new positive COVID-19 cases in students and staff, meaning the case count does not indicate cases contracted in the school building.

“Parents and community members are working to make informed decisions, and we have determined the best path that balances informed decision making with our obligation to student privacy,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We believe this resource will not only help parents but will inform how COVID-19 is affecting student attendance, chronic absenteeism and overall student attainment."

The information can be found two ways on the dashboard: by selecting a district on a map or by selecting a district through a drop-down button.

Schwinn said protecting students' identifiable information is critically important and they have worked diligently with the federal government and school districts throughout the state to do so.

Information from schools with fewer than 50 students enrolled will not be reported, and schools with less than five positive COVID-19 cases will not report a specific number.

The dashboard will go live as the state's final two school districts return to school next week and will be updated every Friday.

The group "Protect My Care" — made up of Tennessee doctors pushing schools to take further protective measures, issued a statement in response to today's announcement, saying in part:

“This is an important step for the step to take in managing this COVID-19 health crisis but one of the greatest influences on whether it can be safe to resume in person classes is the prevalence of COVID-19 spread in the community. “

The group continued to advocate for a statewide mask mandate and virtual schooling until the COVID spread drops further.