Examining the rise in COVID cases in St. Louis’ biggest school districts and why it’s difficult to compare numbers

COVID and the Classroom

FILE

ST. LOUIS – With the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and the influx of hospitalizations across St. Louis, FOX 2 decided to examine the case data for the 10 largest school districts in the area to see just how many students and staffers have recently contracted the virus.

We examined the COVID dashboard data for the following districts (we have linked to each of their dashboards so parents can easily locate this information in the future):

An apples-to-apples comparison is not readily apparent, however, since each of the districts updates and releases data at different times. For example, the most recent data from the SLPS (as of this initial publish date) is from the week of Dec. 10 to Dec. 16, 2021. The other districts all have data from the last few days.

The districts do not say how many tests have been administered in a given week, making it impossible to discern a positivity rate. The Wentzville School District does provide an up-or-down change in the number of active student cases over the last 10 days. Some of the districts provide the number of students and staff under quarantine, and those who’ve had close contact with a diagnosed COVID case.

So how can one get a firm understanding of the COVID spread among local districts?

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ COVID-19 Dashboard features a tab or button for every district in the state. The data measures kids ages 5 to 19. There is one important thing to note about the state dashboard, though: “Data reflects COVID-19 activity among all school-aged residents, including non-public school students, in each school district’s geographic boundary. It is not possible to identify cases within specific student bodies.”

The state dashboard uses data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri School Boards’ Association, and the Missouri Hospital Association in putting the table together.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 11, districts in the St. Louis region have seen a 22% increase in new COVID cases over a 14-day period, from Dec. 22, 2021 to Jan. 4, 2022.

Screengrab (taken 1/11/22) from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Only districts in the St. Louis region are highlighted.

Here is how the 10 biggest districts in St. Louis stack up over that period:

  • St. Louis Public Schools – 537 COVID cases
  • Rockwood R-VI School District – 309 COVID cases
  • Parkway School District – 383 COVID cases
  • Fort Zumwalt R-II School District – 212 COVID cases
  • Wentzville R-IV School District – 202 COVID cases
  • Francis Howell School District – 233 COVID cases
  • Hazelwood School District – 323 COVID cases
  • Fox C-VI School District – 108 COVID cases
  • Mehlville School District – 220 COVID cases
  • Ferguson-Florissant R-II School District – 207 COVID cases

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