The Tennessee Department of Education will report new positive COVID-19 information for schools districts and individual schools starting this week.
“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."
This week, a dashboard will launch on the department’s website (https://www.tn.gov/education) that will display information reported by districts about COVID-19 in their communities, and whether or how positive cases within a school may impact the way teachers deliver instruction to students.
The dashboard will be updated each Monday with the previous week’s virus numbers.
To ensure protections of individual privacy, schools with fewer than 50 students will not be reported in the dashboard. For schools reporting under five positive student or employee COVID-19 cases, the school will be listed without a specific number of cases for the category.
The dashboard will provide information on the number of new positive COVID-19 cases amongst students, the number of new positive COVID-19 cases amongst staff and 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.
At the school level, the dashboard will provide district-reported information on the number of new positive COVID-19 cases amongst students, number of new positive COVID-19 cases amongst staff, and whether adjustments from the district’s primary operating model have been made within the school. Students and staff listed as positive does not necessarily indicate they contracted COVID-19 at the school building.
Users will have two ways to access information:
A map view— An interactive map of the state of Tennessee will enable users to hover over their county or region and select their school to reveal more information.
A menu view—A drop-down menu will allow users to quickly select a particular district of interest to reveal more information.
The state had resisted making virus numbers about school districts public until the announcement about the new dashboard.
“We must balance transparency with privacy of children. We have looked at this with FERPA and HIPAA and consulted with attorneys,” Schwinn said about the policy change.