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School districts working to keep COVID-19 cases transparent

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Posted at 10:01 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 11:20:35-04

COLORADO — More local school districts are trying to be transparent when it comes to reporting COVID-19 cases. Some have launched online dashboards to track isolations, quarantines, and positive
cases while others have created COVID Response Teams.

Academy School District 20 created both to ensure everyone stays informed during the pandemic.

"In the beginning, we thought we could communicate every time this happens, but it has really ramped up. Not just in our school district, but in the county and it can be really challenging for us to be putting all of the information out to the community in a timely fashion," said Allison Cortez, Chief Communications Officer for Academy School District.

She says the district really wanted to be transparent and up to date with their COVID-19 cases so they launched an online dashboard to help parents and staff find real-time data of all cases and quarantines.

"It gives everyone that one central source of truth, they know where to go, they can slice the data any way they want and they can keep up to speed," said Cortez.

The district also has a COVID Response Team to handle contact tracing of anyone who's been potentially exposed to the virus.

"They do a variety of things. They are the central point of contact for a school if they have a probable case, they handle contact tracing, and handle reaching out to the staff and family members if they have to quarantine or isolate," said Cortez.

While other school districts don't announce each positive case or quarantine, Cortez says the district think it's important.

"The reason we tell everyone is that we know that you're probably going to find out anyway and we want the information to be consistent. In a time of crisis, we need to over-communicate and communicate often. So we're going to tell everyone so they can make informed decisions," said Cortez.

Pueblo School District 70 also created a COVID Response Team to review the previous day’s COVID data in the county and start the process of responding to possible exposures within the district.

"Our D-70 COVID Response Team is the three people we have in our Student Services Department, plus a school nurse. The team has taken on the work of COVID response, in addition to all the duties they previously had, and have done great work in keeping the students and staff as safe as possible during this Pandemic," said District Superintendent Ed Smith.

When it's a small group impacted by a positive case, the district only notifies those involved, but if it's an entire classroom they will alert all parents.

"Letting them know there was an exposure at the school, but if they didn't hear specifically about their child then there is nothing to worry about," said Seip.

The district says parents can head over to their website where they can find a list of cohort closures.

Widefield School District 3 says they also follow county health guidelines and notify anyone who needs to know.

"For our community, we directly contact them and work with them rather than create hysteria or concern when it's not needed," said Sam Biggs, Director of Communications for Widefield School District 3.

The district gets that this can be frustrating for parents, and says they're welcome to call if needed.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38, The Colorado Springs School District 11, and Pueblo School District 60 also have online dashboards for parents and staff to track COVID-19 cases.