Knox County Schools explains why its COVID-19 data differs from state Health Department

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Some have noticed that the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 numbers for children and teens are very different from the data Knox County Schools is reporting on their dashboard. The school district has offered a few explanations as to why that is happening.

In a release Wednesday, the Knox County Health Department said only receives school-level information from people who complete a case investigation form. This form is used to confirm that a case subject is a Knox County Schools student or staff member, this is also the only way for KCHD to determine if the person is a KCS student. The number of active cases on the dashboard only represents the number of case subjects interviewed by KCHD.

KCS officials say there could be delays at every stage of a case being reported by the county Health Department due to the immense volume of cases statewide. This includes:

  • A delay for those seeking COVID-19 tests
  • How long it takes the lab to process the results
  • The several days it takes for information to be sent to public health officials
  • The time needed for public health officials to make contact with the individual

By the time some people are interviewed, their case may have exceeded the 10-day symptom onset date. KCS does not consider a case active after exceeding the 10-day symptom onset date.

In addition, the Knox County Health Department is not able to collect info on every individual that is between 5-18 years old. In some cases, parents may not respond to texts or calls, KCHD may not have accurate contact information or the case may not be reported.

Knox County Schools is asking families to provide relevant information to a contact-tracing official from KCHD to help the process move smoothly. They also offer these steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools:

  • Make sure that students stay home when they are sick and when they are asked to isolate/quarantine
  • Ensure that eligible family members are vaccinated
  • Consider the use of masks for students who attend school in person

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