Minnesota school district unveils new COVID-19 dashboard

DIstrict 728 in the north Twin Cities metro area unveiled a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 dashboard for its families. (isd728.org)

With administrators and families keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 community data rates as the school year progresses, a north Twin Cities metro school district is making it easy, putting its known positive cases on a public dashboard for all to see and access.

“We continue to pride ourselves on communication and transparency,” said Dan Bittman, the District 728 Superintendent. “It’s part of who we are. It’s in our strategic plan.”

District 728 covers Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman schools. Since the start of the school year, all elementary students have been learning in-person while the middle and high schoolers have gone hybrid.

Recently, the district launched an online dashboard to provide weekly updates on the number of positive COVID-19 tests within its communities. So far, they are in the single digits for both students and staff.

“So we quarantine students, have kids in isolation when the Department of Health guidelines says we should do that, but the numbers have been very small up to this point,” Bittman said.

The district, with more than 13,000 students, is somewhat unique in that it is educating kids from five different counties, so it’s complicated for parents to just look at the most recent regional infection rates.

The hope is that the dashboard will help provide a clearer picture of an evolving situation.