BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The National Education Association is working to track the number of COVID cases in schools across the country, but union members are urging state leaders to make this information available.
Education advocates say it’s about safety, accountability and transparency.
“Everybody knows that there is a privacy issue. Nobody would ever want to report names or individuals,” said Tracee Binion with the Alabama Education Association. “But I think within a school district, the public has a right to know.”
The National Education Association started tracking the data after a teacher in Kansas noticed there was no database of COVID case numbers of schools.
The chart includes an Alabama tab and a list of reported cases organized by school district and school. COVID positive cases are also organized into whether the case involved a student or teacher.
Union reps say the data is either pulled from news reports or submissions from educators verified by the union. While the list isn’t comprehensive because it’s based on submissions, leaders say it’s a concerted effort towards transparency.
Even though districts have to report positive cases to the state, that information isn’t easily accessible to the public.
“It is sent to the ADPH and that’s where the information stops,” said Binion. “That’s why I think we need to ask them to make it part of their tracker.”
The state publishes COVID data on the public tracker that can be viewed on the ADPH website. While it gives a break down of case numbers and age, it’s not specific to the county, the district, or the individual school.
State education leaders say their contribution to the NEA database is a start in tracking that data, but ADPH and health leaders in other states should provide regularly updated information to the public.
Binion argues it’s information that should be added to our state COVID data tracker.
“Last Spring and Summer we weren’t worried about what cases were coming out of schools or colleges because there were no students,” said Binion. “But now that we know we have students back in schools face to face that becomes very important to track.”
Binion says the information could help communities assess current risks and staff and parents would have a full picture school safety.
WBRC reached out to state health and education leaders to learn if this is something leaders are working on. We’re still waiting to hear back.