School COVID-19 Data: Frequently Asked Questions
What information is available?
Starting Oct. 28, 2021, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is changing the way COVID-19 data for K-12 schools is reported. This change provides more robust school-level data to allow communities to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on their schools. These data focus on cases associated with school buildings where students or staff members were in a school building while being infectious. Public, nonpublic, and tribal schools are included.The goal of this information is to show the scope of the impact of COVID-19 on all Minnesota schools. The listing of schools with five or more cases is moving to the COVID-19 Weekly Report and aggregate data remains in the current weekly report.
The school data includes:
- Lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among school staff and students who worked or attended school at a Minnesota PreK-12 school building while they were infectious or able to spread COVID-19. Test results from at-home test kits are not included, whether purchased independently or provided by the school.
- A list of the names and counties of schools that reported five or more confirmed cases within a two-week period. A total of four consecutive two-week periods will be displayed at any given time.
- If a school has fewer than five cases, it is reflected by a symbol ( - ), rather than a number range.
- When a school has fewer than five lab-confirmed cased of COVID-19 for four consecutive two-week periods, that school no longer appears on the list.
Where can I find the data?
The aggregate school data is in the current weekly report found on COVID-19 Weekly Report. The listing of schools with five or more cases is at Cases in Pre-K through Grade 12 School Buildings, by County.
Where are the data from? Do they come directly from schools?
These data come from the Minnesota Electronic Disease Surveillance System, which is an MDH disease tracking system used by organizations that conduct COVID-19 testing.
Schools are required to report to MDH when they are made aware that a staff member or student has tested positive. MDH uses that information to make sure all cases are identified, rather than as a primary source of tracking information.
When does MDH include a school on its public list of named schools?
Schools that have five or more confirmed cases within a two-week period are included on the list of named schools.
Did all of the reported school cases get infected with COVID-19 in a school building?
These case counts do not necessarily mean the people got COVID-19 from being at school. It also does not mean that these cases resulted in other people getting COVID-19 (transmission) at school. It means they had COVID-19 and were infectious while in a school building.
If someone was in a building several days before they got a COVID-19 test, are they counted as a school case?
People are considered a school-related case if they were in a school building during their infectious period, which is the time a person with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others. The timeframe a person is able to spread the virus to others includes the two days before a person has symptoms and for at least 10 days after symptoms start. For a person without symptoms, the infectious period is two days before the date the person tests positive for COVID-19 and until at least 10 days after the date of the positive test.
What will happen when someone with COVID-19 was on the school grounds or at an outdoor practice, but was not in the building?
A student or staff person with COVID-19 who was on the school grounds or at an outdoor practice who did not enter the building will not be included in the count.
Is a school with fewer than five COVID-19 cases required to tell the school community about the cases?
Schools should notify everyone who had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 while in the school. At the same time, schools are expected to protect the privacy of students and staff with infections.
I know my school has had more than five cases. Why isn't the school on the list?
Several factors influence whether or not a school appears on the list:
- A data lag of at least two weeks occurs as lab reports are submitted to MDH and processed into MEDSS.
- If a school has parents reporting at-home testing results, those test results are not part of this report.
- If someone who is reported as a lab-confirmed case did not meet the definition of attending school while infectious, those data will not be included in this report.
Parents and families should connect with their school if they have additional questions or concerns about the data their school reports.