Coronavirus in schools: How area parents are getting their updates

Mondays are more than just the start of the week for many area school families who now take time that day to check their local school system’s latest coronavirus update on district-run dashboards.

Created in part due to orders earlier this month by state officials, the new dashboards are now a part of school life under the coronavirus shadow.

“Knowledge is power and we as school parents feel empowered with this information,” said Mason school parent Chris Centofanti.

Mason was one of the first in the area to post a coronavirus dashboard, prior to orders from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and Centofanti described the district’s website listing as “very helpful.”

“My son was quarantined for 14 days earlier this month as precaution but was not infected. I appreciate how Mason has been so transparent with their information,” she said.

Hamilton school parent Katie Simpson echoed that appreciation, calling her children’s school district dashboard “excellent.”

Prior to school districts being ordered by DeWine to create and update dashboards, which are usually updated each Monday, area schools had put together their own alert messaging system to keep school families notified of student and staffer infections.

But Simpson said she welcomes the new uniformity of the dashboards, which can be found at each public school district’s website.

“I actually thought the other day how it is sort of scary that we, as parents, really have no idea what cases have been reported in the district. I think pushing this database out more might help parents feel a little better about going back to school,” said Simpson of Hamilton’s recent decision to return to normal, five-day class schedule later this month.

Lakota Schools, which is the largest suburban district in southwest Ohio, has made the school system’s coronavirus infection dashboard a top priority in communicating to its school families the extent of the virus in its 22 school buildings, officials said.

Seeking and evaluating community input was key to the evolution of Lakota’s dashboard, said district officials.

“We have made adjustments to our dashboard based on parent feedback,” said Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for the 16,800-student district.

“This includes showing the breakdown of quarantines based on school-related positive cases or other reasons. The other reasons include being identified as a close contact of a non-school related positive case or quarantining based on recent traveled, as is recommended by the Ohio Department of Health.”

“We have also added a monthly and year-to-date chart showing the number of positive cases and quarantines. We continue to work closely with the Butler County Health Department and follow their guidelines with regards to contact tracing and quarantine protocols,” said Fuller.

Tracey Carson, spokeswoman for Mason Schools echoed the importance of working closely with school families.

“We knew it was vital to share this information beginning with our first week of school. Our families have helped us create an even better dashboard that gives them the transparent information they need to understand how COVID is impacting our schools,” said Carson.

“We believe this builds trust, and puts families and community members in the driver’s seat of making informed decisions about how to navigate this new normal,” she said.

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