Public Datasets: A Guiding Light for Schools During the Pandemic

By Vinay Mullick

Data helps to answer our questions. Often we look at it fondly because it reinforces a decision we have made, or it helps us to course correct when distracted by something new and shiny. We are in a tricky time where the story that data tells us might not be what everyone wants to hear. More importantly, it is impossible to predict the ending and the narrative to get there will likely change quite a bit. 

 

For the La Grange community in Illinois, both the elementary school and high school districts doubled down on their commitment to data-driven decision making. Recognizing that all of the decisions they would make regarding school would be impacted by a variety of external factors, School District 105 (K-8) and School District 204 (9-12) respectively, decided to use UpMetrics to help track, analyze, and communicate information from relevant publicly available COVID testing data. 

 

Leadership at both districts saw the opportunity to reference publicly available datasets available to their region and localize this data to provide important context to all their stakeholders (students, parents, staff, school board, community members, etc.). These leaders also recognized that the UpMetrics data visualization and impact analytics platform could help them make prompt and informed decisions. They decided to use UpMetrics to help them accomplish these important tasks.  

 

In addition to tracking the overall number of positive COVID-19 cases in the region, UpMetrics has provided interactive dashboards based on real-time information that empower greater conversations around long-term planning. These same dashboards can be shared externally - allowing for complete transparency. School District 204 used the UpMetrics platform to serve as the baseline for their COVID-19 Dashboard which was built to keep their stakeholders up to date. 

 

The country is still in the midst of a pandemic, and school district leaders are consistently having to make swift decisions in unprecedented areas. Innovative methods for the continuous collection and monitoring of real-time data is crucial as school districts look to optimize their responses and guide future decision-making. We still don't know the ending of this story, but if we can use data as our guide, learn as we go, and leverage tools to share updates, I think we’ll be ok. Why? Our educators are innovating in ways we’ve never seen, rising to the challenge and continuing to innovate, whether they are in the classroom or remote. With these teachers leading the way, anything is possible.


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