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KEARNEY — The Kearney School District will roll out a COVID-19 dashboard at the school district site, www.ksdr1.net, to keep families and the community informed as to when a person in the district tests positive for the virus.

Assistant Superintendent Jeff Morrison said district leadership under the helm of new Superintendent Matt Miller has pushed for transparency, hence the reason for the dashboard.

“In return, parents are being transparent with us so that if they or their student tests positive, we know how to respond,” Morrison said. “They are helping us out. All these responses, from being notified to washing hands to the hybrid (learning) scenario, we are able to have kids in class. Our kids and staff are wearing masks. They have been great. We want to say thanks to parents, too.”

Since this summer, the district has shared details, as much as can be shared without violating a person’s legal right to privacy, about COVID-19 positives.

As the school year is now underway, Morrison said there is a response team that works to collect the many pieces of data that is included in the dashboard and used to inform close contacts of those infected right after a positive diagnosis has been shared.

District nurse Karen Hatfield, Activities Director Dave Schwarzenbach, Communications Specialist Sonja Love Dewey and Morrison make up the response team.

“It’s so critical to look at classroom and lunch seating charts and bus seat assignments,” Morrison said in determining close contacts to hopefully mitigate virus spread. “We can identify those who have been in close contact in about two to four hours. We are also able to put together that script and share those details. We talk with the Clay County Public Health Center and what quarantine will look like and their guidelines.”

Morrison said the response team also looks at whether or not there are other siblings in the district and what activities the student is involved in.

“We will ask about outside activities such as club sports or other youth groups,” he said.

The assistant superintendent said the efforts are designed to be communicative and transparent. In the past three weeks, the district has shared information about cases at Southview Elementary, Kearney Middle School, Kearney Junior High and Kearney High, totaling eight cases.

“We are trying to keep kids and teachers in school and safe,” he said.

Morrison said he expects the additional challenges as allergy season accelerates and flu season kicks in with the possibly of overlapping symptoms.

“The intent of the dashboard is to be updated weekly so that there is one central place for people to find details about our coronavirus cases,” he said. “We will still send out letters to the individual schools with a case and call those in close contact.”

Miller said the plan is to release the dashboard by the end of the week. Ryan Blankenship, IT director, and Tami Young, data coordinator, along with Miller have led the way in creating the dashboard.

“We are hopeful the dashboard is helpful to our community and provides a consistent, accurate location for data about COVID-19 isolations and quarantines of our school staff and students. The district is continually reviewing the data to reflect upon mitigation practices and to inform the modality of learning which includes in person, hybrid or online,” he said.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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