Why reported COVID cases by districts may be different from DOH site

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Will New York schools have to report COVID cases for 2021-2022 school year?

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Parents or caregivers noticing the number of COVID cases reported on the state’s COVID-19 Report Card aren’t the same as what’s on their district’s website shouldn’t be overly concerned. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) and local school districts are working to get the latest information to parents, one way or another.

The state’s website was briefly unavailable at the beginning of the school year while it was being updated. The DOH said the website would be back up by September 27, and it was.

Schools are required to report new cases of COVID in districts daily, but it’s not a perfect system. Schools have to report case information by 5 p.m. EST, according to the DOH. The website is updated by 6 p.m. This can not only lead case numbers to be different between the state and district sites, but it can also be confusing for parents who receive notices from districts.

As an example: A school reports 12 additional cases to the state’s website on Tuesday at 5 p.m. At 7 p.m. that evening, the district is notified of another four cases. They send out a notification Wednesday morning to district parents/guardians of the 16 new cases on Tuesday. However, the state’s website will not be updated until Wednesday evening, meaning the numbers reported by the state and the district won’t jive.

NEWS10 did some research and noticed district information did not always align with the state numbers, so we reached out to some school districts.

Albany City School District said they had been having issues with new staff and reporting to the state even when there were no new cases to report.

“Early in the school year, there may have been some confusion on the part of some of our newer administrators about completing school reports when they had no positive cases,” said Lisa Angerame, from the district’s communications department. “We’ve clarified the issue with all our administrators to assure that the report is completed daily regardless of whether or not there are positive cases to report.”

Angerame went further into detail about how the district tracks cases.

“Principals report cases daily to district administration Monday-Friday. The district in turn reports cases the same day to our families and the public via our website, SchoolMessenger email, Facebook, and Twitter, and we send internal emails to staff. Cases that come in late in the day are reported the next day. Cases that come in on the weekend are reported on Monday,” she said.

Another issue that could be causing confusion is how far back cases go on the state’s tracker. The number of total cases reported on the South Glens Falls School District website since the beginning of September (35) is not what’s being reported on the state website (52).

This is because the number of cases reported on the state website goes back to August 20, said district Communications Specialist Kerry McAvoy-Minor.

“We email a weekly update home to parents and guardians every Friday that includes the number of positive reports we get during the week,” she said. “We have updated our district website to ensure that all the previous reports included in our weekly district messages were there. “

Cases reported in the weekly notices since August 20 total 53, much closer to the number reported on the state site (52).

To find out how many cases were reported on the Averill Park School District website, Communications Specialist, Brian Radewitz said the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 archives need to be referenced. This is because two weeks of communication from the 2021-2022 school year are filed under the 2020-2021 archives.

“Each of these areas has postings about cases from this year and combined they reflect the correct number, which is the same as the NYS School Report Card. We are working on correcting the archives so this information is easier to find,” Radewitz said.

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