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Tennessee to report COVID-19 cases in schools through new online dashboard by Sept. 22

The new dashboard launches next week and will include about new positive cases in districts and schools across the state.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE (Sept. 8): The Tennessee Department of Education said that they delayed the launch of the dashboard after technical difficulties processing from school districts. 

Now, they said they expect the dashboard to launch by Sept. 22.

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The Tennessee Department of Education is launching a new online COVID-19 dashboard that will report the number of students and staff who've tested positive in each school and district.

The TDOE said the new dashboard will launch on its website next week and will display information reported by districts about COVID-19 in its communities, and whether or how the number of positive cases will impact schools and instruction.

Gov. Bill Lee said his administration overcome a number of "hurdles" in preparing the dashboard. He's been criticized in recent months for not being more transparent about cases showing up in public schools.

Lee said it's been a balancing act to find a way to provide information that's informative to parents, schools and the public while also protecting the privacy of those who have the virus. Federal laws that protect medical privacy must be observed amid a time that he called "uncharted territory."

“Parents and community members are working to make informed decisions, and we have determined the best path that balances informed decision making with our obligation to student privacy,” TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. “We believe this resource will not only help parents but will inform how COVID-19 is affecting student attendance, chronic absenteeism and overall student attainment."

Schwinn said the Education Department would address any reporting problems as they arise.

Schools with fewer than 50 students will not be reported on the dashboard to ensure their privacy. Schools with fewer than five positive COVID-19 cases between students and staff will also not report the specific number of cases.

By district, the dashboard will be updated to show the weekly number of new cases, as well as the number of cases the week prior. It will also show a breakdown of how many students are learning in-person, remotely, or under a hybrid model.

Credit: TDOE
Example of TDOE's district information dashboard.

For individual schools, the dashboard includes the same information above for the district, as well as a more detailed list of information with weekly cases involving students or staff, what instruction model the school is using, and any notices about classroom closures or instructional changes.

Credit: TDOE

TDOE said students and staff listed as positive will not necessarily mean they caught COVID-19 at a school building.

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