Florida K-12 Case Rates by District, Aug. 10- Oct. 3, 2020

Data and analysis by both the Wolf and the Badger

We’ve missed you.

For the last two months, I (the Wolf) have spent most of my time building and working on The Covid Monitor project, the national data and reporting site for COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools.

The Badger has done an amazing job keeping up with the needs of our COVID Action site, and I’ve been slowly turning over more responsibility to him as I juggle multiple obligations.

We’ve spent the last two weeks working on a paper regarding K-12 cases in Florida, which has been submitted and is currently under review.

But the paper we’ve submitted only contains a fraction of the data we have and the analysis we’ve done.

So this post is to bring you some of the stuff we couldn’t fit into that paper, as we realize parents and communities currently face tough decisions about how to approach reopening schools.

The Covid Monitor has the most comprehensive data of any single resource out there when it comes to COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools. Unlike some places that neglect to include case rates, or others that use qualitative data, we’re providing you with the best overview available of case data in Florida schools.

Summary

Across Florida (and the United States), students make up most cases in K-12 schools. Here’s a look at those proportions in Florida:

And here’s a look at Florida compared to a few other states monitored by The Covid Monitor:

% students / staffKentuckySouth DakotaMississippiFlorida
Elementary64 / 3675 / 2550 / 5059 / 41
Middle71 / 2977 / 2372 / 2864 / 36
High79 / 2181 / 1986 / 1480 / 20
Statewide totals of student / staff cases in K-12 schools. Source: The Covid Monitor.

Discussion topic added 10/17 on student vs staff cases:
Giving some thought to the student and staff case rates per 1,000 in-person students enrolled (in our paper under review), we’ve been trying to explain this pattern of fewer student cases (both by rate and as a percent of all cases) in elementary settings.

Without testing data, this would be a hard problem to examine. We’ve submitted a public records request for the same demographic testing data DOH used to release while Rebekah was managing the data systems. This would tell us how many people under 18 are actually being tested in each county.

This is key because we’re working an idea that confirmed cases might be significantly under-reported for elementary level children. Since the staff rate is fairly consistent across age groups, we anticipate there might be a large share of cases “missing” from the younger cohorts. Of course, without data, there’s no way to explore, much less prove, this hypothesis so we’re in the dark until the state releases the data requested (if they do).

Florida Data

If you’re visiting this site, you probably are most interested in cases in specific counties. Here are a few stats to keep in mind:

Source: Florida Department of Health Case Line Data
Though Lee, Polk and Taylor stopped reporting after DOH released its first school report, despite publicly condemning DOH for the widespread inaccuracies of that data.

How we gathered and analyzed this data:

We took the number of cases reported in each school district (per each district’s own reporting site) and the number of students enrolled in face-to-face instruction (per public records request to each county) to calculate the case incidence rate for the below counties. Rates are adjusted by the number of days the school district was in session, since districts opened up at various dates between August 10 – August 31. Most counties included data breakdowns of student vs staff cases, while Lee, Polk and Seminole only included total cases overall.

The case incidence rate per in-person student enrolled only includes counties who 1) report independently, and 2) provided enrollment data. We currently have outstanding requests for face-to-face enrollment data in 12 Florida counties, and have spent an indecent amount of money paying fees to get it. Once that information is received, we will add those additional counties to this list.

Student Case Incidence Rate by School District/County:

Table is ranked from highest to lowest student rate (cases per 1,000 students enrolled in face-to-face instruction only).

Total (student and staff) Case Incidence Rate by School District/County:

Table is ranked from highest to lowest total case rate (cases per 1,000 based on student enrollment in face-to-face instruction only).

Impact on Communities

The CDC noted a significant uptick in percent positivity of pediatric cases across the country after schools reopening in August:

COVID-19 incidence among school-aged children aged 5–11 years and 12–17 years by week: March 1–September 19, 2020. Source: CDC COVID-19 case report form. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/covid-19-response.html

Since that publication, similar trends have been observed not only in Florida counties, but in states across the country where schools have reopened:

Case rates over a 7-day period showing increases across the country over the last six weeks, with the lowest increases seen in the U.S. northeast and the highest in the US Midwest and US South. Source: The Covid Tracking Project, Oct. 16, 2020.

Nay-sayers will ignorantly claim that children are “immune,” or that these dramatic increases in cases aren’t causing immediate deaths, so they somehow don’t count.

Well, reports of deaths lag deaths. Deaths lag hospitalizations. Hospitalizations lag cases. Cases lag sickness.

Even with all the lag, hospitalizations are once again on the rise across the country, particularly in states where schools reopened (Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah) when compared to those that did not (California and New York).

Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah (states which all opened up schools in early/mid-August) hospitalizations per day. Source: The COVID Tracking Project.
California and New York did not start reopening schools in August and early September. Source: The COVID Tracking Project.

We’re working on releasing additional data pending peer-review of our article, and will keep you updated as we receive more feedback.

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