Parents question COVID outbreak data at schools; LDH says districts are not required to report cases
BATON ROUGE – A day after the state health department began reporting coronavirus cases among students in schools, health officials told parents who believe cases are under reported to contact specific school districts.
According to data released Wednesday (Aug. 19), fewer than 400 students in parishes surrounding Baton Rouge were COVID-positive in the first few days of school. Ascension and East Baton Rouge reported the most cases of students – still, fewer than 130 each – of area districts. Livingston Parish reported 18 cases at nine schools.
Parents messaged WBRZ in a fury after the report was released Wednesday, questioning the number of cases and suggested area schools had alerted parents of many more cases.
The data released by the state Aug. 19 was a tabulation of cases reported by school districts between Aug. 9 and 15, the first few days of school for most area students.
The Louisiana Health Department tracks outbreaks weekly and began tracking cases reported at schools Wednesday. The Aug. 19 data release was the first of the 2021-2022 school year.
When questioned about the data by WBRZ, the Louisiana Department of Health said the number of schools listed in its report are from schools where cases were found and may not show the full number of schools in a district if cases were not found at other campuses.
There is not a penalty if a school or school district does not share positive COVID data, health officials said. The health department only issues guidance and won’t involve itself in closing schools, officials told WBRZ.
A health department spokesperson suggested concerned parents should contact school districts and the Department of Education if parents believe cases are not being reported accurately by local school officials.
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