Timely release of school COVID details critical
Ours has been called the “Information Age.” Within hours of a Hollywood celebrity opining on politics, we know about it. Even local news travels at the speed of light; we hear how our high school football team did minutes after the fourth-quarter clock hits zero.
But if Ohioans want to know whether COVID-19 has breached their children’s schools, they may have to wait a week.
Several days ago, Gov. Mike DeWine said he will require schools to report cases of the disease and make the public aware of them. Excellent and appropriate, we thought.
Then the bureaucracy kicked in. Detailed rules on school reporting of COVID-19 cases are being readied, it has been reported. Last week, DeWine said the state will mandate that school officials inform local health departments of cases of the disease within 48 hours. Then the local agencies report to the Ohio Health Department. There, the numbers will be put together and reported to the public … each Wednesday.
In fairness, schools also are required to notify the parents or guardians of students who test positive for the virus. They also are supposed to make information about COVID-19 cases “publicly available.”
Google that term. You will find various definitions, most couched in lawyerese. One states that — wait for it — the term means “available from a public source.”
DeWine is familiar with bureaucratic foot-dragging and the typical reaction of government to comply with an order only so far as to be able to claim there has been compliance.
He should follow up on his initial order. First, information on COVID-19 in schools should be updated on the state website every day — not once per week. Second, schools should report cases on the days they are discovered, with no more than a 24-hour lag in posting them on the website.
Finally, school districts should be required to disseminate COVID-19 information by every means possible, including release to the news media.
The bureaucracy has been very successful for generations in insisting that human beings follow its rules. COVID-19 won’t wait until every Wednesday to spread like wildfire through a school.
Information that can help safeguard Ohio children needs to be provided in time and effectively enough to make a difference.