Does Your District Meet the Metrics?


Naina Parshotam, Staff Writer

With the threat of COVID-19 infection lurking behind students’ shoulders like a criminal on a neighborhood watch sign; parents and educational leaders are asked to turn to the Arizona Department of Health Services website (ADHS) to guide decision making about the choice of in-person or virtual learning.

But with the community suffering from information overload from news outlets, benchmarks, graphs and reports; it may be beneficial to explain how to find and how to interpret the data available on ADHS’s website to see if JOCUSD schools meet benchmarks to safely return to in-person instruction.
As of today, August 28, JOCUSD schools currently do not meet the three metrics recommended for a safe return to in-person instruction.

The first set of benchmarks (moderate spread) allow for a partial return to in-person instruction or hybrid model. They include:

  1. A two-week decline in the number of cases OR a two-week rate of less than 100 cases per 100,000 population within the county.
  2. Two weeks of percent positivity below 7% within the county. (the amount of people with a positive test result out of all individuals with a COVID-19 testing in a given county)
  3. Two weeks with hospital visits due to CLI below 10% within the region.

The second set of metrics drop the two-week rate down to 10 cases per 100,000, less than 5% positivity and hospital visits related to COVID-19 below 5%. Once these are met, schools are allowed to safely return to in-person instruction with limited safety precautions.

Click here to view county-based guidelines, scrolling down will showcase three graphs lined vertically on the left, and an interactive graph of Arizona on the right. Select Pinal County’s outlined region and the numbers will recalculate to data specific to Pinal County in detail. The information presented is “used to determine the level of community spread of COVID-19 in Arizona and assist with decision making for the types of delivery model schools may consider.”

Green checkmarks indicate that a county has entered the “moderate spread” category or below. They do not necessarily indicate a value in the “minimal spread” qualifier for a full return to in-person instruction

JOCUSD schools meet part two of the first benchmark (less than 100 cases per 100,000 population for two consecutive weeks) and the third benchmark (two consecutive weeks with hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses in the region below 10%), but do not meet the second.

There is a link titled “School Benchmarks by County”. Once clicked, a quick reference chart of all counties will appear outlining what benchmarks have been met in an easy to read readable manner. Again, green is indicative of within the moderate range or below.

Currently only two counties in Arizona meet the metric for a return to hybrid instruction. Both Apache and Yavapai meet all benchmarks.

It is not only important, but understand the dates used in the metrics (most recently updated on August 20. The ADHS info updates every Thursday, “covering the two-week period ending 12 days earlier” (a chart of dates as well as the time period they cover can be found here, on page 7). According to the ADHS website the school dashboard “does not show the past two weeks due to potential lags in data,” in order to ensure that the information presented is both as accurate and complete as possible.

Updated results will be discussed at Thursday evening’s special board meeting. Use this link to attend the meeting virtually starting at 6 P.M.