The Tennessee Department of Education released its COVID-19 school dashboard Wednesday showing the numbers of new positive cases of the novel coronavirus in districts across the state.
The move to launch the dashboard came shortly after Johnson City Schools, Carter County Schools, Kingsport City Schools, Unicoi County Schools and Elizabethton City Schools released their own public COVID-19 dashboards on their websites.
The state department asked districts to submit information reporting positive COVID-19 cases in districts and schools every week, as well as how cases could affect operations for schools that have returned to in-person and hybrid learning.
So far, more than half of Tennessee's districts have submitted data for this first week of state reporting. Full reporting across every district is expected by September 22.
Johnson City Schools had no reported data on the state site as of Thursday, but as of last Friday, the district's own dashboard reported 54 students in quarantine, seven in isolation and 42 pending results. Science Hill had 30 students in quarantine and four students in isolation. Seven of those students were pending results. Two staff members were also in quarantine, with one in isolation.
The district also recorded eight staff members in quarantine, with one in isolation and another pending results.
Students and staff in quarantine are defined as those who have had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and must remain home until cleared to return to school. Isolation is required for someone who tests positive and needs to wait until being cleared to return.
Superintendent Steve Barnett said both dashboards will be important tools to "provide the community with weekly updates so they are aware of our current numbers."
“We always strive to be as transparent as possible with our families and community and that is never more important than now as our students return to in-person learning," he said, adding that the district dashboard is updated every Friday.
“As early as the spring, we knew that we would have to deal with COVID-19 in our schools and community. I believe that our staff, teachers, and schools have the proper protocols in place to ensure that we are doing our best to keep our students and staff as safe as possible.”
Washington County also had no reported data on the site as of Thursday, and the district does not have a dashboard on its site. As of Thursday, Director of Schools Bill Flanary said the district will be working with the state to record data in the district.
Flanary said the county Board of Education recently approved a reopening plan requiring parents to be notified if their child is identified as a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case, as defined by the Tennessee Department of Health.
“Washington County Schools will participate in and provide system-level information to the Public Facing Dashboard created by the Tennessee Department of Education,” he said in a Thursday statement.
“Our goal is to find the proper balance between the amount of notification necessary to keep our students and staff members safe with the need to preserve the privacy of all individuals involved.”
So far, the dashboard has recorded a total of 21 cases from last week — 12 students and 9 staff members — in the First Tennessee region, covering schools in Bristol, Carter County, Cocke County, Elizabethton, Greene County, Greenville, Hamblen County, Hancock County, Hawkins County, Johnson County, Kingsport, Newport, Rogersville, Sullivan County, Unicoi County, Washington County and Johnson City.
To take a look at the dashboard and its interactive map, visit districtinformation.tnedu.gov.
To see updates on local district dashboards, visit each district's website.