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Why does Florida’s school coronavirus data differ from numbers reported by districts?

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News/WFLA) — The Florida Department of Health provided some clarity on Friday about the report published earlier this week outlining coronavirus cases in schools and universities throughout the state.

We’ve been pushing for answers from the health department this week and found the report uses different data than school districts when listing cases.

When we first looked at the state’s COVID in schools report, we noticed the numbers didn’t align with local districts’ data. Some schools were missing entirely.

The Florida Education Association is pushing for more transparency.

“It’s not a comprehensive report. It is not being laid out in a user-friendly way,” FEA President Andrew Spar said.

We looked at two districts to see how their reporting compared to the state’s. The Duval school district reported 75 cases between Sept. 6 and Sept. 26, while the state reported 91.

In Leon County, the district reported 64 cases. The state only reported 40.

“And it’s really on the governor’s shoulders to make sure that he’s telling the truth, that he is choosing to provide information that is clear, understandable and direct,” said Spar.

We were told by a Department of Health Official that the department independently collects its data through labs and its own investigations, not from the districts. It also only reports schools that have identified a positive case.

On the university front, the state’s numbers align fairly well with what the universities have tracked.

Marshall Ogletree with the United Faculty of Florida said regardless of which data set you use, he and other university staff are worried by the figures they’re seeing.

“Most universities have seen a spike and surge,” said Ogletree.

It’s important to note the state’s numbers don’t cover the entire school year and will only be updated once a week. For the most accurate picture on a day-to-day basis, education advocates we spoke with recommend checking your district’s dashboard.

While we were able to get some clarity on the report through conversations with Department of Health officials, we have not yet received an official statement from the department since we first sent a list of questions Wednesday morning.

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