(The Center Square) – The Tennessee Department of Education launched a new dashboard Wednesday to report COVID-19 case data on a school district level.
A majority of school districts have submitted information for the dashboard, but it does not reflect full reporting across all districts. The department said it expects data from every school district to be reported and included on the dashboard by Sept. 22. Data will be updated on a weekly basis.
Because of stringent protection of student privacy under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, schools with fewer than 50 students will not be included in the dashboard. For schools reporting fewer than five positive student or employee cases, the school will be listed without a specific number of cases.
“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,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement.
The dashboard includes numbers of new positive COVID-19 cases in districts and schools, as well as information on the methods of instruction, including virtual instruction being delivered to students. Data can be viewed using a drop-down menu view to sort information by district, or using interactive maps of the state, county or region.
Dashboard data will include the number of schools conducting in-person learning, the number of schools using virtual instruction methods, and the number of schools employing a hybrid approach.
“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 be impacting their school communities through a district-populated dashboard,” Schwinn said.
Each district also will include a link to the district’s plan outlining how the district will continue the school year remotely.
The department clarified that positive cases reported among students and staff does not necessarily indicate that COVID-19 was contracted at the school building.