We Have Denominators!

COVID-19 School Response Dashboard

The dashboard is up!

Full Dashboard

Landing Page

NPR covered us this morning, and I hope to see more later today. We have a Webinar scheduled at 3:30 — register and attend if you want to hear more. I’ll be writing about the dashboard regularly, over at Business Insider, probably starting tomorrow.

Very brief overview (or just go to the dashboard and poke around!)

What is this?

We surveyed schools and districts about their enrollment and opening plans, their mitigation strategies and a bit of demographic information. We then followed up (and will continue to do so bi-weekly) with a survey on COVID-19 cases, confirmed and suspected, in students and staff. In the dashboard now is the data we have on the first wave.


The data currently (4am on 9/23!) contains about 550 schools, with a total enrollment of about 340,000 kids. Of these, we have almost 100,000 students in person (about 325 schools with some in person instruction), and about 38,000 staff (teaching and non-teaching).

This is a platform. It’s just the beginning. We expect more schools to enroll. District-level enrollment and data entry is on going. We’re hoping to work with some entire states to bring in their data. In fact, if you refresh the dashboard over time, you’ll see the numbers tick up. Exciting! Dynamic!

At the top of the dashboard we report infection rates in students and staff. There is a ton of really interesting stuff in the data, but I know you’ll look here first. We report this in two ways: including only confirmed cases, and including confirmed plus suspected. The latter approach surely includes some cases which are not really COVID-19, but the former misses some where testing is not available. In all cases, the denominator is in-person counts.

In students, we see a rate of between 0.078% (that’s 0.78 cases in 1000) for confirmed, 0.23% (2.3 cases in 1000) for confirmed plus suspected. For staff, these numbers are 0.15% and 0.49%.

You read these as you wish. And you can filter them. And in the main dashboard, you can even log into Stats IQ and play around with analysis yourself.

What’s so great here?

We do not have the most schools (yet!) or the nicest visualizations (probably NYT takes that). What we do have, that others have not focused on, is the denominator. Combined with more context.

Knowing the number of students in school lets us look at rates here, not just counts. Which, for me, is key. Knowing that there was a case, or 10 cases, in a school is much help if you don’t know how many students are there. This may seem obvious, but much of the reporting here has focused on case counts. This may be because it’s hard to collect the denominators (trust me) but it really changes the picture.

Doing this at the school level also means we have all kinds of information about schools which we can both look in average form, and relate. As we get more data, we’ll be able to think about questions like “Which of these mitigation strategies seem to be associated with lower cases, or less spread?” We’ll be able to look in more detail at hybrid policies. There is all kinds of fun stuff. And as the sample grows, which it will, the richness of what we can analyze will go up.

Who is We?

I play only a tiny role here. This was produced through partnership with Qualtrics, who did all the heaty lifting. THANK YOU especially to Greg, Carol and Liz who I owe probably both an apology and cookies).

The initial organizing partners were AASA, The School Superintendents Association; the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. And we got help from many others: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Association of Independent Schools of New England, Washington Federation of Independent Schools, National Association of Independent Schools, Northwest Association for Independent Schools, Chiefs for Change, Arnold Foundation, Templeton Foundation, Walton Family Foundation.

(Your organization could be on this list! Reach out! Our email is covidschooldashboard@gmail.com)

What can I do?

Promote this, and if you are a school or district, sign up — information on that can be found on the landing page. Or come to our Webinar! But, mostly, have fun poking around in the data and see what you find.