Here’s how the district records COVID-19 cases and communicates them to the public

McKenna Christy

As COVID-19 cases in Ohio and the United States rise at alarming rates and break daily records, inevitably the cases in the district are increasing. There is a discourse between the amount of cases OLSD reports on their dashboard and the active cases the Ohio Health Department (ODH) records, leaving a lack of clarity over the true amount of positive cases in the district and the schools residing within. 

The process the district goes through to count and publish the numbers of students who have tested positive for the virus and those who were exposed and quarantined as a result, might seem confusing and difficult to follow. At the beginning of the school year, the district shared how they would track COVID-19 cases on their website and during virtual Board of Education Meetings, which also detail how the administration would contact members of the district regarding cases within specific classrooms. 

For OLSD, the schools are given, daily, a report of confirmed positive cases from the Delaware Public Health District (DPHD), and while within 24 hours schools must email parents of students in a class with someone who contracted the virus, the district updates the cumulative active and probable cases every Friday. 

 The numbers on the district’s dashboard and the ODH never match, and that is due to the differing days the institutions have decided to update their case counts. The ODH updates their dashboard every Thursday at 2 p.m. and the case count is gathered from the previous Sunday, and as mentioned above, OLSD reports their new numbers every Friday. For context, on Nov. 11 the ODH shared that the district has 25 new cases while the district’s dashboard has reported 32 active confirmed cases as of Nov. 12. It makes sense that cases would develop over the week and since the district is updated daily on new cases from the DPHD, the OHD would not update those numbers on their dashboard yet. ABC6 clarified that active cases are removed from the count after 14 days, which is why the numbers on the districts dashboard might be lower than what the ODH shares, with the current trend of increasing cases, this should be unlikely now. 

During the Aug. 27 Board of Education Meeting, Julie Wagner Feasel- Vice President of the board, slightly mentioned how the communication between the district and parents would work when someone tests positive for the virus. Feasel informed district members that the notification process would be no different than it is when someone brings lice into the schools; the administration only needs to know which form they need to send to parents: the lice form (for example) or the COVID-19 form.

Although the district has provided the public with their COVID-19 tracking and communication systems, an article from ABC6 published in Sept. shares the Central Ohio school districts with the highest number of data points and the lowest number of data points observed on each of their COVID-19 dashboards, OLSD ranked last on the list. The district had one data point available, which was the active confirmed cases, now, the dashboard shares the probable cases throughout the district. 

The future of the district’s hybrid schedule is fairly uncertain at the moment; there will be no in person school on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, the last two days before the upcoming break. Instead, students will learn virtually for those two days. The current trend of cases on every health department and district’s dashboard is an alarming concern causing these decisions to be made, even if the numbers do not match perfectly.