This story was updated at 1:25 p.m. Jan. 7, 2022, to include a comment from Jimmy D’Andrea and Monifa McKnight’s quote about updating data.
Montgomery County Public Schools officials on Thursday night did not update a dataset about the level of COVID-19 in its schools, just two days after pledging to do so every school day.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight said the district would release a new document by 7 p.m. each school day that shows the number of COVID-19 cases reported at each school going back two weeks, and a color-coded indicator of how close each school is to meeting the threshold for possible closure.
Parents have been closely watching the data to know whether to expect changes at their children’s schools. (Bethesda Beat has a chart showing the latest on cases and status at each school.)
The document was posted at the scheduled time on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the data that was to be updated by Thursday evening was not posted as of Friday afternoon.
MCPS last week also committed to sending a community message on Thursday evenings with updates about the pandemic and its impact on schools. That also was not sent on Thursday.
However, a document detailing the number of new cases reported at each school in the past 24 hours was updated. According to that document, 1,842 new cases were reported as of 4 p.m. on Thursday.
The lack of new data comes one day after more than 100 schools surpassed a threshold established by the district for possible closure.
Schools color coded green have 3% or less of their students and staff members with positive COVID-19 tests in the past 14 days. Schools with more than 3% but less than 5% of students and employees who have tested positive in the past two weeks are coded yellow, and schools with at least 5% with positive cases are coded red.
On Tuesday, 11 schools were in the red. Wednesday night, 126 were.
The first 11 schools to pass the 5% threshold reverted to virtual classes. But when 116 more schools were added on the second day, they remained open, pending review by MCPS and county health department leaders. An MCPS spokesman this week would not say how long the review would take or when additional closures might be announced.
On Friday afternoon, MCPS spokesman Chris Cram said McKnight’s chief of staff, Jimmy D’Andrea, denied that the district committed to updating the color-coded data every school day. Instead, D’Andrea said MCPS only pledged to update the number of cases reported at each school daily, as relayed by Cram.
Actually, at a media briefing on Tuesday, McKnight said: “We remain committed to keeping students, staff, families and community partners informed by making sure the data is available and letting you know what decisions are made regarding COVID-19 and operation in each of our school communities. By 7 p.m., every school that is in session, we will post an update of reported positive cases by school and indicate whether, based on the percentage of students and staff who have tested positive, which schools fall in the green, yellow or red categories.”
McKnight’s comments start in the video below at 10:47.
Managing Editor Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org