Kern County school districts have begun to unveil public dashboards on their websites that include information about positive COVID cases within their own school communities.
So far the Bakersfield City School District, Greenfield Union School District and Lamont Elementary School District have public COVID dashboards, but administrators from other districts, including the Kern High School District, have said they plan to release dashboards soon.
This new school year was meant to mark the grand return of in-person schooling in California, but rising COVID rates in the community have spilled over into the school setting, sending students and staff into quarantine and creating anxiety.
"We keep saying this is a year like no other, but I can honestly say this is the most difficult year yet," Michael Zulfa, associate superintendent of business, told the Kern High School District board this week.
BCSD Superintendent Mark Luque said many ZIP codes within the district have been hard-hit by COVID throughout the course of the pandemic, and rising positive cases cause concern in these communities. He said the dashboard is a way for the district to be transparent with its staff and community.
"Everybody deserves to know this information," said Luque.
BCSD was the first large district in Kern County to unveil its dashboard on Thursday morning. It currently includes information from the week of Aug. 27 through Sept. 2. The district plans to update it with data from the prior week every Friday afternoon.
That data includes the number of confirmed cases on each campus or administrative offices — 45 sites altogether. It also shows the combined number of students and staff who are in-person at each site, plus a calculation that shows the percentage of people at a given site with a confirmed case.
Lamont Elementary School District unveiled its dashboard two weeks ago, shortly after a town hall meeting held with parents about COVID protocols. It is updated at the end of each week.
Lamont's dashboard includes a bar chart that shows "active" cases that are broken down by students and staff for each site. It also has a second bar chart that shows cumulative cases since the four-school district started school on July 28. Once a confirmed positive case is cleared to return to campus, it is removed from active cases and to the "total case dashboard."
Greenfield released its COVID dashboard on Thursday evening. Superintendent Ramón Hendrix wrote that the district is "committed to providing accurate and transparent information regarding COVID-19 cases on our campuses and sites while maintaining privacy and confidentiality for students and staff."
Greenfield will also release its data in weekly batches each Friday. Its current dashboard shows information from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2. It is broken down by site and by student and staff at each location.
The Kern High School District said a dashboard is coming online soon. At its Tuesday board meeting, the district announced that it is aware of 694 positive cases among students and staff from the first day of school on Aug. 18 through Sept. 3.
Zulfa said that KHSD is working on a dashboard that will share regular updates on positive COVID cases that will be shared by location.
"It is expected to be available soon on the district's website," Zulfa told the board.