Home > Uncategorized > COVID-19 Data Can’t Be Collected Because of “Privacy Issues”? Really?

COVID-19 Data Can’t Be Collected Because of “Privacy Issues”? Really?

September 11, 2020


A team of Politico writers did a good job of examining the state of COVID 19 data collection and, unsurprisingly, it’s not a pretty picture… though it should provide future textbooks with a real world case study on the importance of having a strong federal government.

From the very beginning of the pandemic the POTUS and his party have advocated a state by state approach to dealing with a disease that by it’s very definition is a national problem. The result is that there is no national standard for collecting data on the spread of the disease… and now that school reopening is happening on a district by district basis those districts have no means of monitoring the spread of the disease. The Politico article describes the hodgepodge of data collection protocols and notes that at this point the only national survey is being done by a professional association:

To try to fill the information vacuum, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, created its own tracker to examine how things are evolving at schools based on their reopening plans. Just over half of school districts are taking a hybrid approach to reopen, just under a third are fully online and about 10 percent are open for fully in-person instruction, said Noelle Ellerson Ng, who leads the association’s legislative and advocacy efforts.

“I think the [Education] Department is uniquely positioned to absolutely play this role and we welcome the opportunity to have them work in this space collaborate, partner and lead,” Ellerson Ng said. “Absent that work, we find ourselves in a position to fill that void and put data and science where it’s not being provided by the federal government.”

When the federal government fails to function SOMEONE needs to step in… but whatever organization steps in will not have the credibility of the government. AASA is perceived by some school boards as a “lobbying organization” and that political stance, combined with with tight budgets that limit the funding for membership, means that even though it is a national organization AASA does not represent every district in the country. More importantly, AASA does not have the ability to compel the collection of data.

And now the Federal Government and many GOP led state governments are claiming that data collection is an impossibility because of “privacy concerns”. My rejoined is that “privacy” has not precluded the collection of granular data on standardized tests, data that is hardly a life or death matter.

The failure to develop and implement a national protocol for data collection is an abrogation of responsibility at the federal level… an abrogation of responsibility that is compounded by the fact that the POTUS knew this disease was deadly and failed to alert the citizens to the peril and, even worse, downplayed it. Now those mistakes are being compounded again by failing to provide schools, parents, and citizens of the impact of opening schools. I mourn for the needless deaths that will follow.

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