The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is working to determine the best way to report individual COVID-19 case information.
Some entities, including the Missouri National Education Association, have asked DESE when and how the state and the department plan to report individual COVID-19 case information, Communications Coordinator Mallory McGowin said during Tuesday's State Board of Education meeting.
DESE is working with the state COVID-19 response team to determine the best way to do this.
"We know that data could be valuable for decision-making purposes, but we need to look at the right way to present that," McGowin said. "We are currently looking into sharing publicly the positive case counts among school-aged students in a given community."
DESE has data on positive cases for school-aged children and can track where the children who tested positive live. However, DESE cannot determine whether these children attend the public school district in the area, are home-schooled or attend a private school.
DESE also would not be able to track staff members who tested positive because the existing data does not include employers.
On Sept. 1, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued additional information about requirements for reporting positive or suspected COVID-19 cases among school staff and students and why it is important.
Schools are required to report cases to their local public health agency immediately, and the local public health agency is required to share COVID-19 information with schools immediately.
The Jefferson City School District is reporting cases on its website, jcschools.us, under "Back to JC Schools Re-entry Plan." The district is also informing families of the affected schools.
As of Saturday, there were 23 positive cases and 25 close contacts among staff and students in the Jefferson City district, including cases at Jefferson City High School; Capital City High School; Thomas Jefferson Middle School; Lewis and Clark Middle School; and North, East, Pioneer Trail, Lawson and Moreau Heights elementary schools. Three of the positive cases are no longer quarantined, according to jcschools.us.
The Blair Oaks R-2 School District in Wardsville is also informing families of affected schools and reporting positive cases on its website, blairoaks.k12.mo.us, with an indicator of which risk level each school building is in. Each building is currently in the green level, which means there are low numbers of active cases.
Blair Oaks has reported five COVID-19 cases since Aug. 26, including a middle school student, a middle school staff member, an after-school Y-Care staff member and two high school students. The middle school staff member had 15 close contacts, and the others did not have any, according to the district's website.
DESE is also working with Missouri's COVID-19 response team to develop plans and guidance for rapid COVID-19 testing for K-12 schools, according to information discussed during Tuesday's State Board of Education meeting.
The federal government will be deploying more than 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests across the country that will allow users to obtain results in 15 minutes, which could help with staffing shortages.
"Being able to test a symptomatic member of your school staff to know if he or she could come into work that morning or not could be really valuable to address the workforce issue we've heard great concern about," McGowin said.