New tool tracks COVID-19 cases within school district boundaries

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

ITHACA — New York state officials, parents and community groups now have a way to check COVID-19 case numbers within the geographic boundaries of school districts and alongside socioeconomic and demographic variables, thanks to a new online tool.

Cornell University’s ILR School has launched the NYS School District COVID-19 Tracker, an interactive, web-based mapping application that combines multiple sources of data on COVID-19, demographics and related topics by school district.

NYS school distract tracker tool.

The tracker allows users to display current estimates of active and cumulative COVID-19 cases per 1,000 residents living within a school district, along with socioeconomic and demographic variables, said its developer, Russell Weaver, director of research for ILR’s Buffalo Co-Lab.

“Schooling during a pandemic means that, every day, parents, employees and public officials are facing incredibly difficult decisions about how best to fulfill the educational needs of our children while protecting the health and safety of our communities,” Weaver said. “Recognizing the impossible scale of that challenge, our team is trying to do our part by centralizing relevant information from a variety of sources into one location.”

Tracking variables

Socioeconomic and demographic variables available for each district include:

  • Population
  • School population (students and staff)
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children living in households without computer or internet access
  • Children in households receiving social assistance
  • Children living in poverty
  • Children living in households with limited English-language skills
  • Children enrolled in K–12 education who are persons of color46 Tracker
  • Children living in single-parent households.

Data sources for the tracker tool include New York state’s Department of Health and Department of Education, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the U.S. Homeland Infrastructure Foundation data program.