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'Very clearly inaccurate' | Parents, state lawmaker express concerns about KCS COVID-19 dashboard

On Tuesday, the Knox County School system reported 277 active cases among students. State data showed almost 8 times as many kids, 5 to 18, recently tested positive.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Knox County Schools parent Nate Kelly started paying attention to the district's COVID-19 dashboard a while ago. But now, she said that it isn't as useful as it once was.

"It's essentially useless," he said. "It doesn't match up with our experience in the school, and it doesn't match up with the data that the state reports either... The numbers that the KCS dashboard is reporting are just very, very clearly inaccurate."

Instead, he relies on his daughter to tell him what it's like in school.

Spanish Version: Padres y legisladora estatal expresan su preocupación por tablero de casos de COVID de KCS

"She gives us a report every day about who's there and who's not there," he said. "We're pretty routinely seeing 10 to 15 percent of the kids in her classroom gone for various reasons."

Across the district, Knox County Schools reported 277 active cases among students on Tuesday. The following day — Wednesday — the number of students who currently have COVID-19 jumped to 594. 

The Knox County Health Department said someone is considered an active case for 14 days in their system.

However, the Knox County School system said students and staff are considered active for 10 days.

At least 2,400 school-aged children (5 years old to 18 years old) in Knox County have tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

At least 1,800 school-aged children (5 years old to 18 years old ) in Knox County have tested positive for the virus in the past 10 days, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

"Something's not right. I'm just saying do the math," state lawmaker Gloria Johnson said. "If they're going to be serious with that number from yesterday of 277, then they're saying those homeschool and private school kids have a whole lot of COVID."

RELATED: KCS meets for regular meeting with few COVID-19 safety measures on agenda, after state recommends changes

10News asked Knox County Schools about the discrepancy between the TDH data and their dashboard. In a statement, they listed a number of reasons including:

  • A delay for individuals who are seeking a test, which often takes several days;
  • How long it takes for a lab to process the results;
  • The time it takes for information to be sent to public health officials, which currently takes several days;
  • The time needed for public health officials to make contact with the individual. Acknowledging these factors, by the time some case subjects are interviewed, their case may exceed the 10-day symptom onset date, which is how KCS classifies an active case.
  • KCHD is not able to collect information on every individual that is 5-17 years old. In some cases, parents may not be able to respond to texts or calls; KCHD may not have accurate contact information; or the case may not be reported to public health officials.

Knox County Schools said its goal is to "provide accurate and timely information regarding COVID-19 cases in our district." The district plans to add school-level data to the current dashboard.