KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two metro school districts are taking new steps to help families keep tabs on COVID-19.
Independence and Park Hill are launching their own coronavirus dashboards with figures on how many people are testing positive and actively in quarantine.
Theresa Fitzpatrick’s two kids are back to Park Hill schools for the first time in six months.
“It’s been good. It really kind of felt like the first day of kindergarten all over again. They were really excited, and I was really nervous,” Fitzpatrick said.
Park Hill has put in a ton of new safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from physical distancing and one-way flow through halls, to barriers between some desks. Students and staff all wear masks.
“So far, we’ve had a great start to the school year. I’ve been around to over half of our schools and it’s been wonderful to see the kids back and to see how well they’re adjusting to all the new changes,” said Tammy Saylor, Park Hill Schools Health Service Coordinator.
But even with all the precautions possible in place, schools know they will see COVID-19 cases. Park Hill and Independence Schools are now launching trackers to help the community know what’s happening.
“We heard from our staff and our families that they really want us to be as transparent as possible, so that’s why we decided to put up this dashboard,” Saylor said.
Park Hill currently reports 10 COVID positive cases and 18 more in quarantine. A graph will show how case numbers trend over time. Information will be updated weekly.
“It’s good as we kind of see the trend lines changing. It’ll be a nice yard stick to see kind of what’s happening in our own little community,” Fitzpatrick said.
Independence shows just seven cases so far, and figures will be updated daily by school building.
Both districts know having a good grasp on the numbers will guide both parents and schools as a whole make about how the school year moves forward safely.
Something else that will help is additional testing capacity. Children’s Mercy Northland, East and Blue Valley clinics are now offering drive-through COVID testing for kids, and school districts encourage anyone with symptoms to get tested.
Here are the responses FOX4 has received from some area school districts about their own plans to launch tools for tracking COVID-19 cases.
Shawnee Mission: The district is currently in full remote learning and does not currently have plans for a COVID-19 dashboard.
North Kansas City Schoos: The district is currently working on a tool to show its COVID-19 cases.
Blue Springs: There is not currently a dashboard up and running, but it may develop one in the coming weeks.
Lee’s Summit: District leaders are interested in this concept and actively watching how other schools are creating these tools.
Liberty: The district is planning to post a similar dashboard to those shared by other metro districts. They are hoping to share this information in the coming days.