Going Further Into the Red: Additional Thoughts On Our SSWN Florida Schools COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool
As America’s school districts struggle with how to re-open schools this Fall, the nation’s attention has increasingly become focused on the state of Florida. The state has seen COVID-19 cases continue to grow in some parts of the state, even after Governor Ron DeSantis and his Education Department had declared that all 2,828,000 Florida PreK-12 students should be back in a 5-day in-person school this Fall. The governor’s actions have thrown some of the 67 Florida districts into legal and political battles against the state (Orange County and Hillsborough County schools are two large districts currently battling the state) though he is appearing to backtrack somewhat from that hardline position given a recent lawsuit by national and state-level teachers’ unions to restore all school re-opening decisions to local district levels that is finally scheduled for its hearing this week. .
In the spirit of helping local Florida districts, counties, parents, students, and teachers make their own decisions about how best to re-open schools this Fall, SSWN has partnered with data analytics expert Derek Noce (pictured below) to use data visualization (via the Tableau analytics platform) to offer some data to help form a Risk Assessment as individual Florida counties and districts assess what their schools are going to do.
Derek Noce delivers modern analytics to organizations striving to better leverage their data and empower their teams. He leverages decades of business analysis, strategic planning, analytics development, testing, and deployment experience to achieve his clients’ objectives and overcome challenges. Committed to delivering data visualization best practices and ROI via actionable insights, Derek has been a Tableau consultant for seven years.
The Florida School Re-opening Risk Assessment can be found here and will also form the basis for a variety of additional materials we generate here at SSWN over the coming months about school re-opening. While the tool itself is meant to be used for informational purposes, it’s hard to look at the figures of rising deaths in Florida, and increased School Risk Scores we show here and wonder how safe it will be to re-open schools for in-person learning in many parts of Florida over the next month. A few notes on the color scheme, categories, and “School Risk Factor” scores:
- All of the data is in the public domain, and we note our sources in the Tableau worksheets you can access for further reading.
- The School Risk Factor score was computed looking at all the categories in the graphic below and computing the score. Given that this is an evolving situation with no clear “cut-offs” to assign scores to in terms of low to middle to high risk, we are choosing to instead list the scores and to allow readers to assess how their county and district might fare, understanding that not one county in Florida had a School Risk Factor score of 0.
- Most districts had significant issues in terms of instructional space per student and few districts had anything close to the recommended ratios of school nurses and school social workers per school, and in our conversations we believe that the combination of tight instructional space + limited school nursing and school social work expertise presents significant challenges for any school district that wishes to re-open safely and effectively this Fall.
- Finally, the color codes are loosely aligned with increase in severity (light yellow = lower risk scores but still caution, light orange to darker red = higher risk scores, though again we are not ready to assign any definitive risk status to any of those colors at this time i.e. “red scores” make schools 3x more likely to have outbreaks vs. “yellow or orange scores.”
While the tool itself is meant to be used for informational purposes, it’s hard to look at the figures of rising deaths in Florida, and increased School Risk Scores we show here and not wonder how safe it will be to re-open schools for in-person learning in many parts of Florida over the next month.
School Risk Score Information
In addition, with Derek’s help and the consultation of fellow Florida resident and SSW scholar Dr. Rob Lucio of the University of St. Leo School of Social Work, we have created a glossary of all the terms we’ve used to calculate our risk scores and to assess each Florida county’s readiness to re-open safely. While not an exhaustive list of indicators (for some other ideas, check out this helpful explainer piece by my colleague and public health expert Dr. Megan Ranney of Brown University, “5 Key Questions to Consider Before Sending Your Child Back to School“) it represents our best effort to get our heads around what might make schools safe(r) to re-open in this rapidly-evolving time.School-Reopening-Risk-Assessment-Glossary
We are excited to share this new data tool for SSWN and to hear your feedback about how you might use it to aid in your school district’s re-opening conversations. We are looking to update this data at least weekly, possibly twice a week as conditions and data develop. We will be featuring and expanding on this school-reopening work going forward into the Fall, including additional information on aspects of school re-opening and specific things that SSW will need to get ready for school in the Fall, drawing on this work and our recent “SSW in a Pandemic” Survey Project. Please join us in this important work on our SSWNetwork site, which is 100% free to join and where 4,700+ of us are already working on these issues.