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An accurate look at COVID in schools

An accurate look at COVID in schools


Embellishment is human nature; the more times a story is told, the more it evolves until eventually, it may have little resemblance to the original facts. It’s a component of gossip, usually accompanied by convoluted provenance that involves a sister-in-law of someone’s second cousin’s son-in-law’s uncle.

More often than not, tale-stretching is not deliberate, but is more a factor of moving through many people’s minds. A children’s party game involves sitting in a circle and whispering a set of circumstances from one to the next. By the time it comes back to the source, it may have little in common with the original story.

That may be the sort of thinking behind Alabama School Superintendent Eric Mackey’s plan to establish a COVID dashboard for public schools in Alabama. The initiative will draw information about the number of positive cases among students, staff, and faculty members, and will be available online to provide the public with accurate data about the incidence of COVID infection in the public schools.

“We want to be fully transparent so that people know that there are cases in the community,” Mackey told

Information will be broken down by school system, but not by individual schools, and will be a component of the Alabama Department of Public Health website, which maintains a state-wide aggregation of data on cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

That should be a comfort for everyone involved in public schools, but particularly for parents, who too often get information second-hand, at best. Mackey said the effort would tamp down rumors: “Sometimes these rumors get out that there are 100 people positive with it in the school, and there are actually three.”

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