The Albany City School District, which is one of the few still reporting COVID-19 cases to the public, said cases doubled during the first weeks of school in comparison to June, but are still a tiny fraction of the entire school population. Most school districts are no longer reporting cases to the public and the state has ended its school report card that tracked cases by school district.
The state is no longer releasing COVID-19 case numbers by school district, closing down the COVID-19 School Report Card, which had been a source of local statistics for two years.
Now, school districts are supposed to keep tracking cases, but report them to their local health department.
That came as a surprise to some school officials, who said they were no longer tracking cases.
The state issued the new rules in a lengthy document just before schools opened for fall semester.
“Local health departments and schools will work together to determine if and when action in a school needs to be taken or if there is a risk posed to the general public,” DOH spokesperson Cadence Acquaviva said in an email explaining the reasoning behind the change. “New York State continues to provide an unprecedented amount of data in real-time on cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities from COVID-19. We are constantly evaluating the utility and presentation of data and will continue to update and change our data pages as necessary.” 
Some districts are posting their weekly cases on their websites, while others are not providing the data to the public in any way. County health department officials have not yet said how, or if, they will disseminate the data received by each school district.
Without full data, it’s not clear whether the elimination of all mitigation efforts in schools is leading to a spike in cases. But one Capital Region school district is reporting an increase.
In the Albany City School District – where weekly cases are posted on the district’s website – there were 70 cases among students and staff in the first two weeks of the school year. By contrast, there were a total of 62 cases for all of June, meaning cases have doubled. However, cases still represent a small percentage of the school district, which has 10,000 students and staff.
In Saratoga County, a total of 70 cases of students with COVID-19 have been reported since the start of the school year, out of about 38,000 students, said spokeswoman Christine Rush.
Some school districts have announced they will not make their COVID cases public anymore.
“The Guilderland Central School District will no longer report positive COVID-19 case numbers to families,” school officials posted at the end of their COVID-19 policies for the 2022-2023 school year.
Others said they were not tracking at all.
“We are not formally tracking COVID cases for the 2022-23 school year,” said Shenendehowa Central School District spokeswoman Lindsay Valenti.
When she was informed that the state required the district to report all cases to the county health department, she said the district was doing that.
The district has also received its air purifiers and distributed them throughout the buildings, she said.
One reason for tracking cases would be to determine whether schools that have purifiers, like Shenendehowa, have fewer cases than schools that do not yet have them, like Schenectady.
Schenectady is also not releasing case data, said spokeswoman Karen Corona.
“With the new updated guidance/changes and after consulting with NYSDOH and Schenectady County DOH, we are no longer required to report numbers. School districts are not even required to report daily cases through the NY portal. Since we don’t have a mechanism to verify results when staff or students indicate they have Covid, it is not appropriate to report numbers or any cases that we cannot verify,” she said, adding that she recommended people instead track the case reports for each county. 
Tracking cases could inform parents of a surge, at which point they could choose to take protective actions such as masking. As well, the state Education Department could use school-specific statistics to evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s “back to normal” policies for this year.
Education Department officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Kathleen grew up in Glenville and now lives in Schenectady. She has covered the Capital Region for various newspapers since 2000, focusing on the interesting people who breathe life into their towns, villages and cities. She is the Times Union’s education reporter. You can reach her at Kathleen.Moore@timesunion.com or 518-918-5497.

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