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NY to require schools to disclose COVID-19 cases

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

School districts in New York will be required to publicly release data on the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in each school building, by order of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Howard Dennis

The information on positive cases among students, teachers, and staff will be posted daily online through a state Department of Health dashboard, Cuomo announced this week. The postings will begin Wednesday. It comes after parents and teachers have expressed concerns about the prospect of COVID-19 information being withheld from the public once classes resume.

“I hope this will give teachers and parents some confidence that the plans are being implemented and if there’s a positive case, they will know and DOH will know and the locals can respond quickly,” Cuomo said.

School districts will be required to send their daily testing reports to the Department of Health. The districts must also provide a link to the daily dashboard on their website for other interested parties. That information will be updated daily, according to the governor’s office.

‘Set up for inaccuracy’

Penn Yan Superintendent Howard Dennis has concerns. “The requirement for school districts to report COVID cases is setting the information up for inaccuracy. Schools do not do the testing for COVID—that is coordinated through the Dept. of Health. In essence, schools are now reporting second-hand information that will then be reported to residents as accurate. We have an excellent relationship with the Dept. of Health and they have been our partners through this entire process, but Schools reporting the information seems very misguided.”

Cuomo described the system as integral to ensuring transparency and accountability for school reopening plans.

“Many of the school districts have testing protocols that will be in place as part of their plans, but as I’ve said from the beginning, those plans are only as good as their implementation,” he said.

The new dashboard for COVID-19 cases in schools will be posted on the New York Forward website, at forward.ny.gov/dashboard-covid-19-data-schools.