2021 | Schools

MCPS launches new COVID-19 data portal, takes it down to fix errors

Community members point out incorrect information for some schools

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A screenshot of the new MCPS COVID-19 data dashboard before it was taken down on Tuesday afternoon.

Montgomery County Public Schools on Tuesday launched an updated COVID-19 data dashboard to be more transparent and share more detailed information, according to district leaders.

But the updated site was pulled down within hours to address community members’ concerns about the accuracy of the data included.

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, according to MCPS spokesman Chris Cram. Data sets with fewer than 10 students will not be posted, and indicated instead with a dash, to protect student privacy.

Some parents and community members took to social media on Tuesday to say they are concerned that the data presented on the dashboard may not be accurate, which would render the dashboard “useless.”

The allegations range 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.” It was taken down around 3:45 p.m., leaving the older version.

The older version remained on the website as of 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The dashboard upgrade is part of Interim Superintendent Monifa 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.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com