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How Transparent Is Your College’s COVID Dashboard?

Inside Higher Education – “Absent a national standard for how higher education institutions should report COVID-19 cases on their campuses, many colleges have taken to publishing information on cases on online dashboards. But observers say the dashboards vary greatly in terms of completeness and transparency. A lack of transparency or completeness can deprive students, employees and families of crucial contextual information they need to make decisions about their safety and make it hard to make comparisons across institutions. “I think different states, state departments of health and state legislators really could play a role in advocating for what is the expected minimum amount of transparency that colleges and universities in their state should be putting out,” said Cary Gross, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale University and co-founder of We Rate COVID Dashboards, a website and associated Twitter account that grade university dashboards based on nine criteria.

The best dashboards, according to the We Rate COVID Dashboards rating scheme, are updated at least once every weekday and include information not only about the positive number of cases but also about the total number of COVID tests conducted and the frequency of testing. Dashboards that break down case data for students and faculty/staff separately, and provide information on trends in the surrounding city or county, the number of individuals in isolation/quarantine, and the campus’s operating status, among other elements, are also superior, according to the website’s metrics. Dashboards are very much works in progress. As the fall semester has gotten underway, some colleges have tweaked their databases, adding additional sources of information, or increasing the frequency of updates from weekly to twice weekly, or from weekly to daily. Ohio State University earned an A-plus from We Rate COVID Dashboards, while colleges earning A grades include Colgate, Harvard and Tulane Universities; Bryn Mawr and Vassar Colleges; Wheaton College, in Massachusetts; and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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