Two weeks into the new school year, data is beginning to trickle in about the extent to which COVID-19 is impacting Rochester Public Schools.
The school district updates its COVID-19 dashboard every Monday. Although each of the two weeks available so far has had about the same number of new cases, the number of individuals in quarantine increased substantially the second week.
"We did not have expectations going into the school year because we knew the delta variant was so different than what we dealt with last spring," Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel said.
For the first week of school, from Aug. 30- Sept. 5, there were 42 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 additional people who had to quarantine because of possible exposures. Of the new cases, 23 were in pre-K through fifth grade, 17 were in grades 6-12, and two were staff members.
Currently, only students 12 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The first week's cases were spread throughout the district, impacting all three high schools, all three middle schools, as well as a slew of the elementary schools. Two of the schools, Mayo High School and Folwell Elementary, each had five or more cases, according to the district's dashboard.
The second week, Sept. 6-12, there were 39 new cases of COVID-19. Of that number, 21 were in preK through fifth grade, 15 were in grades 6-12, and three were staff members. During that period, though, there were 173 people who had to be quarantined, 140 more than the first week, even though the actual number of new cases was lower than the first week.
Like the first week, the second week's cases were spread throughout the district. Century High School and Willow Creek Middle school each had five or more cases.
Unlike last year, the district has added a new data point to the dashboard. For the first week of school, 83% of the new cases were among unvaccinated people. During the second week, 80% of the new cases were among the unvaccinated.
Even though the district is beginning to accumulate data, Pekel said it's still too early to derive any conclusions from it.
"The read I have of the data right now on the actual transmission of the virus -- as opposed to the quarantine numbers -- is very inconclusive," Pekel said. "There's no clear trend yet. We're seeing some schools where there's a few cases and then there's none at that school. There's not a linear progression so far."