Introducing: the National COVID-19 School Response Dashboard

A new data tracking initiative on schools!

Over the course of the summer, we’ve published issues on our in-house child care center and summer camp tracking initative. Now that we’re moving into the fall, COVID Explained’s Emily Oster has partnered with AASA, The School Superintendents Association; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Association of Elementary School Principals; and Qualtrics, an experience management company to create a new initiative motivated by the need for better data on COVID-19 in schools.

School leaders are still navigating through uncertainty as the school year has begun, whether in-person or online. The goal of this effort is to provide educational leaders and policy-makers with information on how schools are reopening, and the factors which contribute to safe reopening. What is the role of community spread in the experience of schools as they reopen? What precautions contribute to safe re-open? How are schools in each community reopening?

The effort will collect baseline information on schools as the year progresses, and then follow them over time to record enrollments, staffing, and COVID-19 cases. We are committed to making the data entry straightforward and simple. The baseline survey should take no more than 10 to 20 minutes, and the bi-weekly surveys have only five questions.

We are also committed to making data immediately useful. Anonymized data will be available publicly in a navigable dashboard within a week of data entry. To protect privacy, any publicly posted data will be identified only at the county-level.

Our goal is to recruit public school districts, individual public schools, independent schools, charter schools, Catholic schools, etc. The initiative will include schools that are fully remote, as well as those opening with some in-person component.

School district recruitment for this project begins the week of August 31st and our initial baseline school survey will go out to individual schools the week of September 7th. The bi-weekly surveys will begin the week of September 14 and we plan to release the initial dashboard the week of September 21st.

Recruitment will be ongoing to continue to grow the sample as the school year evolves.

Are you a superintendent and want to enroll your school district? Complete our district enrollment survey here!

Want to enroll your school directly? Provide your contact information here and we’ll reach out.


What kind of questions will the survey ask?

The baseline enrollment survey asks about school enrollment and staffing numbers, opening plans (hybrid/remote/in-person) and a small number of questions on COVID-19 precautions. Our pilot data suggest that the survey takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

The bi-weekly survey asks a very limited set of questions: current enrollment model, student in-person attendance numbers, in-person staff numbers, confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in students and staff.

How will the baseline enrollment survey data be used?

The baseline enrollment survey will be used to confirm school participation in the public dashboard. In addition, we will use these data to identify how schools are opening and the demographic data will be used in analysis.

How will the bi-weekly survey data be used?

The bi-weekly survey data will be compiled by the participating organizations and publicly reported onto the dashboard at the county and state level. No individual school or district will be identified on the public dashboard.

How quickly will data be available?

We anticipate updating the dashboard within a week after data entry.

How will you verify the data is real?

We will have procedures in place to follow up with schools who enroll individually to make sure they are truly representing a school. And we’ll have checks in place to verify data, including cross-referencing to other sources which report cases, like county health departments.

How will my data be protected?

Only the project team will have access to data with school identifiers. Publicly accessible data will be identified only at the county and state level.

What will my school get?

The main reason to participate here is the public good. These data are (we think) necessary to get our kids back to school and project the safety of teachers, staff and students.

Can I participate if I’m an independent or charter school?

Yes! We are eager to have any school participate. Please indicate your interest here.

Can I participate if I am not opening in person?

Yes. We’re interested in any school that is open for the 2020-21 year, including remote-only instruction, along with those who are opening initially. Please indicate your interest here.

If I have other questions, who can I reach out to?

Please reach out to and we’re happy to answer any questions.

This issue was adapted from a post on the site available here. Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns — you can get a hold of us via email, TwitterInstagram, and the site itself.