Parents frustrated by lack of COVID data

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Across the Finger Lakes Region, we’re seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among school-aged children.

Normally, the best resource for parents to track positive COVID cases in individual school districts is the state’s COVID-19 School Report Card but as News10NBC discovered last week, the website has been down for maintenance for weeks.

Schools are required to report positive cases to the state daily and they are doing that but the information is not being turned around for public review until the website is fixed which Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office says should be by Monday, Sept. 27. In the meantime, cases are on the rise and school districts all seem to be handling parent notifications differently.

Every county in our region is seeing an increase in kid COVID cases. In Wayne County for example, over the last few days, 40% of new cases have been in children.

“We’re mostly seeing middle-schoolers and high-schoolers… the elementary school kiddos are doing much better than their counterparts in the higher grades,” said Wayne County Public Health Director Diane Devlin, “most of our positive cases that we’re seeing may be related to extracurricular sports, lunchroom that kind of stuff where masking might not be adhered to as well and definitely not in lunch because of eating.”

The North Rose Wolcott School District, for example, has 22 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week and an additional 35 in quarantine. A number of parents told News10NBC though, that they haven’t been notified about positive cases in the district.

“There is no mandate that you have to communicate with your families within a certain amount of time, my hope and expectation is that they are communicating within 24 hours to their population that they have a positive case in a specific facility,” Devlin said.

Typically, school districts with the help of their respective county health departments, contact families of students who’ve had direct contact with a positive case and might be at risk.

“Generally it’s anybody that has been within 6 feet of them if they are unmasked and if they are masked within 3 feet of them and then it has to be a certain length of time so it’s a case-by-case basis,” Devlin explained.

Meaning, if you haven’t been directly notified it has likely been determined that your child isn’t at risk of transmission. Still—parents would like to know what’s going on.

In Ontario County, the Victor School District has been posting daily updates. On Tuesday, it had 21 positive cases among students and 88 additional students put into quarantine.

The Monroe County Health Department told News10NBC there were a total of 284 positive COVID cases among school-aged children last week, mostly spread-out, a handful in a number of different districts.

The good news is in most cases, the symptoms have been mild and include mostly runny noses and congestion.

“The symptoms don’t last very long for kiddos, on average it’s few days and they’re done but they have to be out for the full 10 days,” Devlin said.

News10NBC reached out to a number of school districts across the region on Wednesday, they all said they were planning to update their policies to include at least a weekly email/update to families outlining the number of positive cases among students and staff. Many said those emails would begin this week.