2021 | Bethesda Beat

MCPS relaunches updated COVID-19 portal after correcting data

New version has school-by-school information

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A screen shot of the new MCPS COVID-19 data dashboard

Montgomery County Public Schools on Thursday relaunched an updated COVID-19 data dashboard, nine days after a deployment last week was unsuccessful due to problems with the data included.

On Oct. 5, MCPS posted the updated portal in an effort to be more transparent and share more detailed information about cases and quarantines in schools. But the site was pulled down within hours to address community members’ concerns about the accuracy of the data.

The allegations ranged from missing reports of cases at their children’s schools to potential inaccuracies in the number of students currently in quarantine.

After Bethesda Beat asked for a response to parents’ concerns, district spokesman Chris Cram said the dashboard had been taken down for “maintenance.”

Over the past nine days, school district employees have gone through all of the community notifications that have been sent to ensure the accuracy of the data, according to Jimmy D’Andrea, chief of staff to Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight.

Unlike the previous version, the updated dashboard includes information about how many students have been and are currently in quarantine and how many active cases of COVID-19 there are across the district among both staff members and students.

It also, for the first time, has school-by-school data.

Previously, the dashboard only included information about the rate of the virus’ spread in the county. That information is not included in the updated version.

The dashboard will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays. Data sets with fewer than 10 students will not be posted, and indicated instead with a dash, to protect student privacy.

There had been 565 total cases of COVID-19 among staff members and students as of Oct. 8, according to the most recent data included in the dashboard. There have been 6,333 student quarantines.

In a text message to Bethesda Beat on Friday morning, Cram wrote that if students are quarantined multiple times, each time they are quarantined counts toward the total number of quarantines shown on the dashboard.

As of Oct. 8, there were 25 “active” COVID-19 cases and 339 students were in quarantine.

According to the dashboard, North Bethesda Middle School has reported the most positive cases of COVID-19 at 21. The second-most cases have been reported at John T. Baker Middle School, with 11.

The dashboard upgrade is part of McKnight’s “five-point plan” to respond to COVID-19.

Other components of the plan include:

  • Hiring a senior administrator as a health liaison to provide guidance and advice as the district navigates the reopening of schools
  • Forming a COVID-19 advisory committee to provide routine feedback to MCPS leaders
  • A commitment to providing more support to school administrators tasked with managing pandemic-related matters
  • An outreach campaign with an aspirational goal of convincing 100% of the district’s families to opt in to COVID-19 screening testing.