Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Coronavirus is spreading in schools, but the federal government isn't keeping count

Researchers say the absence of a comprehensive accounting is hampering efforts to identify which safety practices can best protect students and teachers.

Students walk together in the Jefferson High School parking lot in Jefferson, Georgia, as school started on July 31. Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters file

By Benjy Sarlin and Suzy Khimm

Coronavirus cases are already surfacing in K-12 schools that have reopened, but the federal government is not tracking these outbreaks, and some states are not publicly reporting them, making it more difficult to determine how the virus is spreading, experts say.

Scores of students and staff members have been quarantined because of potential COVID-19 exposure in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Indiana, among other states.

But there is no official national tally of school-linked COVID-19 cases, and some states are not reporting how many outbreaks have occurred or how many students and staff members have been infected. Instead, they are leaving it up to local officials to decide which information to make public and which information to share more narrowly with affected students and families. Researchers say the absence of a comprehensive accounting is hampering efforts to identify which safety practices can best prevent cases in schools from spreading.  Read more >>