School year 2021-22, Week 2

The Roof is on

Sep 3, 2021 | COVID in Schools

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!
We don’t need no water—Let the motherfucker burn!
Burn, motherfucker, burn!

–Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three

For the 7 days of August 26 to September 2, 2021:

New COVID Cases

Currently Quarantined

Well, that was a close call, dear readers! Today was a fresh reminder of how far the “butterfly wings” can reach. The Bad Data Household narrowly dodged a quarantine when the youngster’s other parent’s significant other came down with a symptomatic case of COVID. Per the finer details of quarantine rules, we didn’t have enough overlapping exposure to warrant keeping him home for the next two weeks but it was a bit stressful there for a moment.

A reminder: we’re using this spiffy new rating system to describe the level of fuckery in the world:

Enjoy those happy hour margaritas!
Grocery shopping is fine, but maybe think twice about that Garth Brooks concert
Wear that mask everywhere
You don’t need the mask because you’re not going outside

 

Week 2 is maintaining Week 1’s rating, though there were a few stories from around the county that can give one pause. For example: total student and faculty COVID cases are up 22% week-over-week across the six Johnson County school districts, with Olathe proudly leading the charge and what looks like an entire goddammed building in Gartner Edgerton being quarantined.

This week, I had an opportunity to get some more detailed information about the procedures used at Blue Valley to publish the data, courtesy of the M.D. working with the district. Many have been concerned about our inability to enforce most protocols, or to even ensure adequate data collection and reporting; here’s what Dr. Jenson had to say about the current process.

For the numbers published on the BVSD website, are those numbers coming from JCDHE? If so, are they published as-is or is there some filtering that is done to address things like privacy concerns?

The process for generating information for the BV dashboard comes from JCDHE. The logistics are as follows:

  • When building nurses become aware of a positive student or staff (through voluntary reporting to the nurse), the nurse will submit information through a form known as “Red Cap” to JCDHE directly. Based on the information the nurse submits, preliminary recommendations will come back to the nurse and BV COVID team from the health department. Most of the time, those recommendations involve sending individuals at risk home to wait for the health department to contact them and complete the case investigation.
  • JCDHE makes contact with individuals at risk and completes the investigation.
  • JCDHE sends any needed updates to BV COVID team – ex: Person A was not an exposure and may go back to school effective immediately if asymptomatic.

So, in summary: All lab confirmed positive cases are entered into the dashboard as positive. Individuals that JCDHE recommended to go home and quarantine (while their investigation is pending) are entered into the BV dashboard as quarantines.

Since JCDHE is doing all of the contact tracing for BVSD this year, how and when is that process initiated? Does a parent report a positive test to the school (which triggers a notice to JCDHE)? Or does the school independently report suspected positive cases?

Parents sometimes call JCDHE before the school district. In those situations, we rely on the health department to send us info and instructions.

How much does the data depend on families self-reporting test results?

In my opinion, a substantial amount. From a public health (and ethical) standpoint, it’s critical for parents to be forthcoming and honest about their situation and/or test results.

Can you discuss what percentage of families choose not to participate in contact tracing or to discuss COVID status?

I wish I knew the answer to that question. I’m not sure how to quantify that with validity.

Christopher Jenson, M.D.

Medical and Public Health Advisor

Nothing from the above quotes is really that surprising, and perhaps it’s somewhat reassuring to at least have explicit clarity on what goes on behind the scenes to get all of this data published, but it’s also a bit disheartening. All data has sources of error, but in this case, the biggest source of error appears to be people who don’t want to be included in the data. And we don’t really have any means for estimating how big of a problem that is.

So, for now, treat all of these numbers as relative and not absolute. Regardless of whether households choose to withhold information, if the numbers are going up then the underlying reality is also that the numbers are going up.

And right now, the numbers are going up.

See Also:

BVSD COVID Dashboard

Graph visualizations of COVID cases in the Blue Valley School District

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