State’s new COVID-19 reporting site shows 756 cases in K-12 schools

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 11, 2020 8:16 AM CT | Published: September 09, 2020 3:54 PM CT
<strong>Houston High School students walk to class on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 17. Germantown Schools reported less than five new student cases of coronavirus, according to the Tennessee Department of Education&rsquo;s&nbsp;online dashboard, which was launched&nbsp;Wednesday, Sept. 9.</strong> (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

Houston High School students walk to class on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 17. Germantown Schools reported less than five new student cases of coronavirus, according to the Tennessee Department of Education’s online dashboard, which was launched Wednesday, Sept. 9. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

About 514 students and 242 school staff have tested positive for COVID-19 statewide, according to the Tennessee Department of Education’s online dashboard, which was launched Wednesday, Sept. 9.

The department is asking school districts to report positive virus cases for schools each week with information on how those cases are affecting instruction, according to a state release.

More than half of the state’s districts turned in data for the first week of reporting, and full reporting is expected by Sept. 22. The information is available here.

“Tennessee has led the way in supporting districts for a safe return to school, opening classrooms for the new school year, and now providing the public with information around how COVID-19 may impact their school communities through a district-population dashboard,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in the release.

“This dashboard strikes an important balance in protecting student privacy while providing parents, educators, and community members with information they need to make the best possible decisions for their families,” Schwinn said.

Here is what local schools have reported:

  • Millington Municipal Schools reported less than five cases each for students and staff;
  • Collierville Schools reported 26 student cases and six staff cases;
  • Germantown Schools reported less than five new student cases;
  • Lakeland Schools reported no new cases;
  • Bartlett Schools reported less than five new cases each for students and staff;
  • Arlington Schools was not reflected on the dashboard, but officials said the district also had less than five cases.

All of those municipal systems are using parental choice hybrid systems for remote and in-person learning, although Collierville is in the midst of two weeks away from in-person classes because of the outbreak in that system.

Shelby County Schools, which is using remote-only teaching, did not report.


State Department of Education plans on sharing COVID-19 school data


Schwinn last week announced the state would be providing case information on individual schools, marking at least the third time the state changed its stance on the matter.

Initially, Gov. Bill Lee said the state would be providing case information on individual schools. But he and Schwinn reiterated for at least two weeks the state could not release that information because of the potential for violating federal health privacy laws.

Users will be able to use a drop-down menu or an interactive map to find information about school districts across the state, including those in Shelby County.

The site will provide the number of new positive COVID-19 cases for the current and previous weeks for each district and for each school, as well as the number of new cases among staff and whether adjustments were made within the school because of those virus cases.

The release notes that positive listings do not mean students and staff caught COVID-19 at the school building.

Districts also will provide information on operating models, including the number of schools with in-person learning, the number of schools with remote learning and those using hybrid models.

To avoid the potential for identifying students or staff who contract COVID-19, the state will not provide information on schools with less than 50 students.

In addition, schools reporting fewer than five student or staff cases will be listed without a specific number.

Topics

Penny Schwinn Tennessee Department of Education COVID-19
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a Nashville-based reporter with more than 30 years of journalism experience as a writer, editor and columnist covering the state Legislature and Tennessee politics for The Daily Memphian.


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