Parents could get more information on COVID-19 in schools
Sep 2, 2020, 7:00 AM | Updated: 11:35 am
(Granite School District)
SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah – The Salt Lake County Health Department could soon launch a dashboard that would show which schools have been shut down because of COVID-19. The Granite School District wants to give parents even more information.
During the district’s school board meeting on Tuesday, the board debated whether they could tell the public how many COVID-19 cases have been detected on each campus.
Many on the board, like President Karyn Winder, felt more information would help parents make better decisions and cut down on all the rumors.
“It can incite panic, I recognize that. But…how you really calm rumors is with accurate information. So, if people are thinking there are 10 cases at a school, and it’s zero or one, that’s a huge difference,” Winder said.
Several members of the board expressed frustration at not being told the number of cases on each campus, as well as the rumors they were constantly hearing.
However, district spokesman Ben Horsley told the board that the Salt Lake County Health Department has not given them the green light to make campus-by-campus information public.
Though he felt the county’s future dashboard, which would show the schools who had been shut down after 15 COVID-19 cases were detected and which were still open, would be insufficient for the Granite School District.
“I’m a little more in favor of giving out more information than ‘less than 15’ because…one [case] is a whole lot less than 15, if you know what I mean,” Horsley argued.
There are also questions about health privacy, which is another reason the district says they are waiting for the county to approve their plan.
As of Monday, there were 46 positive COVID-19 cases in the Granite School District. Nine of those cases are teachers.
The State Health Department refining COVID-19 numbers
The Utah State Department of Health (UDOH) said there are no restrictions on its side if an individual school or school district wants to release how many positive coronavirus cases they have.
However, they are still working on getting accurate numbers of COVID-19 cases in schools across the entire state.
Tom Hudachko, communications director for UDOH spoke with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic Wednesday.
“We need to make sure all contact tracers, whether in the southwest corner or northeast corner of Utah, are collecting and inputting data in exactly the same way,” he said.
Hudachko said it took nearly eight weeks for tracers to get accurate data with our nursing homes. And they’ve only had two to three weeks in Utah’s schools since they re-opened.
“The two most important things for us [UDOH] regarding our data collection is – A) the data we’re collecting is accurate and – B) that we’re transparent with the data,” Hudachko said.