Pandemic Response

School Leaders Launch National COVID-19 School Response Dashboard

A group of national education organizations, researchers and technology experts has launched the National COVID-19 School Response Dashboard, a database that maps schools' voluntary responses to the pandemic across the United States. The data is intended to help school administrators, state leaders, families and the general public review the current conditions of the virus in their own communities, compare that information to other places and make decisions for the school year based on the data.

So far, hundreds of schools have joined the effort. And organizers are seeking additional ones. Superintendents can enroll their school districts by completing a district enrollment survey. Principals can enroll their schools by completing a baseline school survey.

The dashboard currently provides the capability to filter on state, school type and grade band, average student and staff infection rate (based on reported two-week periods) and instructional approaches (in-person, hybrid or fully virtual). The project organizers said the dashboard would be continuously updated as districts joined the effort and provided their case counts and information about their learning models.

The project is being led by Brown University Professor of Economics Emily Oster. Oster co-led a team of researchers and students at Brown, MIT, Harvard University, Massachusetts General and elsewhere, to launch "COVID-Explained," a website that provides unbiased information about the virus. She worked with Qualtrics, a user experience management company, to create the dashboard.

Among the participants are the AASA, The School Superintendents Association; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

"In the middle of a pandemic, where our nation is left unable to answer the most basic of questions, the idea of leaving our schools in a position of starting a school year unable to reasonably anticipate what COVID looks like in buildings and classrooms across the nation was unfathomable to me," said Oster in a statement. "COVID Explained was my first step into the work of bringing facts about the virus--how it spreads, how it is treated and who it affects the most--and making sure that information is accessible and actionable. This dashboard is the school version of that work--an effort to aggregate unbiased information to help school leaders and policymakers alike make good, data-driven decisions. I am humbled by the great work being done by school leaders across the nation in getting schools open for the 2020-21 school year and through this partnership and dashboard, we are able to support their continued leadership."

"Our nation's public-school superintendents--and the schools and students they serve--started the 2020-21 school year with inadequate access to broad, nationwide data reporting the realities of COVID in schools. [The] launch of the initial dashboard is just the first step in what will be an enduring effort to make this data as robust and meaningful as possible," added AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech. "We call on school superintendents across the nation to make sure their districts are enrolled and participating, and we remain committed to supporting and serving our nation's school leaders through this pandemic."

The dashboard is openly available on a Qualtrics website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.