Tennessee to begin reporting coronavirus cases in schools

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
(Community Impact Newspaper staff)

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)

As more students returned to in-person instruction this week, parents and community members have called on the Tennessee Department of Education to publicly track how the coronavirus is affecting schools.

Gov. Bill Lee announced Sept. 3 the state will begin reporting the number of coronavirus cases in schools in the coming days.

“We know that there’s a desire for that data, specifically in individual schools,” Lee said in a press briefing.

Lee said the state worked with the U.S. Department of Education and districts across the state to develop the new reporting system.

“It’s uncharted territory; most states are still grappling with this,” he said.

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the state will report data at the district and school level through a dashboard on the state education department website beginning next week.

New cases in students and staff will be reported each Friday, Schwinn said.

Schwinn said the department has taken measures to help ensure privacy for students and staff. Schools with fewer than 50 students will not be reported on the dashboard, she said. Additionally, schools with less than five cases will not list a specific number, according to the department.

Williamson County Schools began reporting data Sept. 1. As of this week, WCS had seven staff members and 16 students in isolation and 37 staff members and 193 students in quarantine.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.