INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A new online tool designed to help track COVID-19 cases in Indiana schools
is expected to be released by the end of the month.
The data dashboard
will reflect the new and cumulative numbers of positive COVID-19 cases among
students, teachers, and in a given school. It will be updated on a weekly
basis, said Dr. Kristina Box, commissioner of the Indiana State Department
While the school
virus dashboard hasn’t yet launched, state officials provided the first
historical snapshot of school COVID-19 cases Wednesday. About 2,000 schools,
over 70% of those across the state, have already contributed data, Box said.
Initial numbers indicate more than 1,100 schools reported no COVID-19 cases,
and more than 900 reported at least one case.
In the positive
cases logged so far, nearly 1,900 students, teachers and other school
employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the new school year
started this fall. Students make up the majority of the reported cases, with
1,348 cases, with another 274 cases reported among the state’s teachers and
276 cases in other staff members.
Case totals are
likely to increase in the coming days as more schools submit their data, Box
said. But because the reporting by schools is voluntary, the state dashboard
numbers won’t fully capture cases. If school participation becomes an issue,
however, Box said the state may consider making it mandatory for district
leaders to report their data.
“The purpose is not
to stigmatize a school or to penalize them,” Box said during a Sept. 9 news
conference. “The purpose is not to mandate whether schools are hosting
in-person classes or going virtual because those decisions are made
The state reported
Wednesday that 94% of schools are now offering at least some degree of
in-person instruction. With school leaders and local health departments in
control of deciding when school buildings should close or reopen as the
coronavirus pandemic continues, Box added that the creation of the new
school dashboard is intended help guide districts as they weigh decisions
about their operational plans.
Still, the case
counts reported by the tracker have been difficult for the public to see,
until now. Currently, schools are required to report positive cases to their
local health department, but it’s up to school officials to determine if
other students and families in the district are notified of positive cases.
As early as next
week, the school data will be available to the public and searchable by
individual school. Schools reporting fewer than five positive cases will
have their data suppressed to protect privacy.
Once the dashboard
is released, Indiana will join more than a dozen other states that publicly
provide numbers of COVID-19 cases in schools.