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A screenshot of the Worcester County Public Schools’s new online covid-19 dashboard. Officials have put together the site to let parents and students know the status of outbreaks and closures, as well as the number of new covid cases counted weekly within the district’s 14 institutions.

An easy-to-access, efficient online tool now exists to let parents and students know how many covid cases are counted weekly at Worcester County Public Schools.

This week, Superintendent Lou Taylor released a message to all parents and guardians that unveiled the district’s new covid-19 dashboard. An arm of the 2021-22 return plan, the site publishes the number of new covid-positive cases at each of the county’s 14 schools for a week’s time. It then classifies each school as green, yellow, orange or red according to the numbers.

According to the explanations, green signifies the school is open with no closures, yellow means it is open with one to two classroom or cohort outbreaks, orange means the school is open but has been classified as having a school-wide outbreak, and red signifies classroom, grade, or school-wide closure or closures.

For Oct. 4-8, which was the most recent data timeline, eight schools were classified as green, three were yellow and three were orange. No schools had red classifications.

Since opening, the numbers have fluctuated, with no significant numbers of cases at a time and only one closure in a classroom at Showell Elementary the week of Sept. 20-24. The class opened back up the following week.

The site also includes definitions for outbreaks. A classroom or cohort outbreak is defined as at least two covid-19 cases among students, teachers or staff members within a 14-day period who are epidemiologically linked but not household contacts. A school-wide outbreak is three or more classrooms or cohorts with cases from separate households that meet the classroom and cohort outbreak definition that occurs within 14 days. Or, 5 percent or more unrelated students, teachers or staff who have confirmed covid-19 within a 14 day period, with a minimum of 10 unrelated.

Taylor said that the new dashboard is an upgrade from the one in place last year, which indicated only if schools were experiencing closures.

“The new and improved dashboard now provides weekly data on the number of new covid-19 cases both countywide and in each of our schools,” Taylor’s message said. “The dashboard also illustrates school status in a new way. It now shows whether a school has been identified by the Maryland Department of Health as having a cohort outbreak or a school-wide outbreak as well as any closure information.”

This story appears in the print version of the Ocean City Today on Oct. 15.

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