INDIANAPOLIS – Data from the Indiana Department of Health shows nearly one in three Indiana schools has not reported COVID-19 data to the state this school year.
K-12 schools in Indiana are required to report COVID-19 cases to the state dashboard. As of Tuesday, more than 700 schools had not reported their case counts to the state health department, according to the dashboard.
“Disappointment,” said Rachel Burke, president of the Indiana PTA. “I’m really, really disappointed.”
Burke encourages parents to reach out their school’s principal if the school has not released COVID-19 data.
“As a parent, how do you make decisions about whether or not to quarantine your child?” Burke said. “Whether the school they go to is safe. Whether they should pick up a new extracurricular activity.”
Jennifer Smith-Margraf, vice president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, urges educators in those buildings to also ask for the numbers.
“I am surprised that the state isn’t doing more to make sure that these schools are reporting so that statewide we have accurate data,” she said.
We asked the Indiana Department of Health about that, and a spokesperson sent us a statement, which reads, in part: “Reporting cases in schools provides transparency about the level of transmission in a community and allows schools and public health officials to implement the infection control measures needed to prevent further transmission. As Dr. Box has noted, our focus is on keeping children in school for in-person learning.”
The number of schools reporting in each county varies, with some areas having more information available than others.
Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department, said all of her county’s schools have been reporting their data, which makes it easier to answer important questions.
“It’s very helpful,” Stinson said. “Are we seeing spikes in areas? Is it clustered or kind of centralized in the city? Are we seeing it more in our county schools?”
We reached out to some of the local school districts that have not reported cases. Some didn’t get back to us, but others said they are working to get caught up with reporting their data or are waiting on the state health department to post their numbers online.
Kevin Carr, spokesperson for Avon Community School Corporation, said data was missing from the dashboard for four elementary schools in the district since information had not been reported for two weeks in August.
“We are aware our numbers are not yet entirely up to date, and we are working to report complete data,” Carr said in an email. “We had to hire help to keep up with the process … We do report cases and quarantines on our website.”
Hazel Dell Elementary School in Noblesville, which up until Tuesday afternoon did not have any data listed on the state dashboard, had not had any COVID-19 cases the first three weeks of school, according to a spokesperson, who added the information had been reported to the state. The school’s profile on the dashboard was updated Tuesday afternoon to reflect the data had been reported.
When asked why Hattie B. Stokes Elementary within Lebanon Community Schools did not have any data reported, superintendent Jon Milleman said data had been reported to the state, adding that his administration reached out to the state health department to find out why the data had not been posted online.