Throughout the 2020-21 school year, many Massachusetts school districts created dashboards tracking the toll of COVID-19 in their district. Following are a sample of model district dashboards that we strongly recommend districts use as they create or update their own dashboards.
Through these dashboards, district leaders, school nurses, and wellness staff can make informed decisions about schools remaining open or having to close temporarily because of a high COVID burden. It is more important that the district have a true count of the number of infections rather than trying to determine the number of clusters within the school district.
We recommend that a dashboard have the following components:
- A weekly and cumulative count of all diagnoses among children and faculty. The report can include all diagnoses reported to either the school nurse or through the local Board of Health for the prior week. There should be a separate column for students and faculty.
- These counts should be conducted and entered separately for all of the schools within the school district.
Through our analysis of existing dashboards (more than 200), we found that COVID was common among students and that the rates differed little between younger and older students.
Number of cases in the schools and in the community: By maintaining an accurate count of the number of cases in a particular district, it is possible to make a reasonable comparison with the rest of the community. Knowing the true number of students attending the public schools and knowing the same for the number of people in a given town or community helps to establish a school-specific rate and a community rate. This exercise provided evidence that the rate of cases among school children was similar as the rate among those ages 18+ and also indicated that our youngest children have rates of COVID-19 that are very close to the rates of middle school and high school students.
We have also included a data dashboard that we have used in Massachusetts to summarize the number of cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccinations by age. We believe that tracking the number of vaccinations by age and by time is indispensable to tracking the protective measures to fight against potential COVID-19 surges.
Massachusetts COVID data Jan 2022