Home Health How to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks in Local Schools

How to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks in Local Schools

Illustration for article titled How to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks in Local Schools

Photo: Halfpoint (Shutterstock)

Schools are opening, and inevitably at least some of them will close again as COVID-19 outbreaks are discovered among students and staff. There’s no federal system to track school outbreaks, but the National Education Association has been compiling news stories and listing them by school district.

The effort was started by a Kansas teacher, Alisha Morris, and the NEA took over to try to maintain this as a large, verified national database. But it still relies on educators and other volunteers to report COVID cases as well as safety concerns at grade schools across the U.S.

Cases and outbreaks are verified by checking media reports. There’s a link on the tracker for submitting case reports and another for health and safety concerns. Concerns are treated as confidential, and you can submit them anonymously. Morris recommends that where information is lacking, people submit a tip to local news media who might be able to investigate further.

Click on the state reports and you can see outbreaks listed by school district, with links to media reports with more information. It’s not a full-featured tracker, and its organizers emphasize that it’s incomplete, but it represents a phenomenal amount of work and can be useful if you’re trying to figure out whether your school has had an outbreak.

It’s a shame that we don’t have a national, organized, well-funded effort to track school cases accurately; as the federal response to COVID-19 has been lackadaisical, states are scrambling to do what they can—and what they have the political backing for–which is often not very much. So we applaud the NEA and their volunteers for picking up the slack and doing the next best thing. Look up reports for your state here.

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