Tennessee Department of Education unveiled this week a new dashboard that will provide an avenue for parents to view additional COVID-10 information, including the number of new positive COVID-19 positive cases, at both the school and district levels
“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 Tennessee Department of Education 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.”
Previous to this, some districts, such as Putnam County, had voluntarily created and maintained their own dashboards so parents could make informed decisions. But effective immediately, the state will begin reporting for all 95 counties. The sharing of student information is protected under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act and White County, as well as the state, says that protecting personally identifiable information is critically important.
“As I understand it, the state will not publish numbers less than five at each school to protect the identities of students and staff,” White County Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger said, adding that White County School Systems will report their weekly positive case numbers per school to the Tennessee Department of Health, and they will publish them on the state’s dashboard.
Tennesseans will have two ways to access information that will be reported each Friday:
At the school level, the dashboard will provide information on the number of new positive COVID-19 cases for both students and staff. Information about any adjustments from the district’s primary operating model that may have been made within the school will also be available. The state warns that users remember that students and staff listed as positive does not necessarily indicate they contracted COVID-19 at the school building. In addition, schools reporting under five positive student or staff COVID-19 cases, will not have be listed without a number for that category in an effort to ensure privacy.
“The White County school district has multiple measures in place to promote the healthy operation of schools during the pandemic, which include a mask mandate, social distancing when feasible, alternate lunch schedules, detailed seating charts, frequent handwashing, specialized cleaning protocols, and more,” Dronebarger said. “We appreciate the community’s cooperation as we strive to provide practical, quality education amidst the challenges of COVID-19.”