This week I spoke to Colin from the Open Data for Safer Schools project a concerned Dad who created the project to help parents check the rate of Coronavirus for school areas in England.
About the Open Data for Safer Schools project
As a dad, like every parent – I do all I can to keep my children safe.
My background is in IT, data analysis and web based presentation of data. So I collected schools data and created the website you see today over the last 2 weeks. Funding is simply my time which I am giving free to benefit my children and all children attending schools in England today.
I believe that my children’s schools and the other 25,000+ in England could be made safer during this term and into winter by sharing information and data with head teachers, staff, pupils and parents.
The project has many avenues available to work towards the goal of Safer Schools – here are a few examples currently in plan for this week.
Each school in England has it’s own website page – Google will index the pages and it is hoped that parents will search and find the page relating to their school. As well as presenting the latest government data available – later these pages will include information and advice for parents, such as what symptoms to look-out for – as delta in children can present differently than the classic 3 symptoms most people know about. Every time a parent initiates a test and stops an infected child going to school – reduces the number of children who could suffer with long covid.
Another key aim is to ensure Head Teachers fully understand the risks to pupils and staff – and take it upon themselves to ensure all their staff and pupils know why effective ventilation and other measures are so important.
If a simple checklist of procedures are the first thought in the teachers mind at the start of each lesson – it will reduce infections in school settings and so reduce onward infections into the community. Protecting parents and grandparents, such simple steps really will save lives.
I have email contact details for all schools in England – I am currently looking at what information could be made directly available to head teachers. (Understanding that it must be best practice and accurate based on current scientific advice.)
Data Analysis as an early warning
Looking at the local authority confirmed cases data for school age children – I noticed that upward trends were easy to spot – and but for the fact that government data is always 5 days old, could be used as an early warning for local authorities and schools to begin measures a bit sooner.
It is well documented that earlier effective interventions can drastically reduce onward infections – in both the school and community.
It seems logical to me that real time data – even from a single authority would make proactive actions possible.
Data produced would allow comparisons between local authorities taking a proactive or reactive approach. If, as would be expected – transmission in schools within a proactive Local Authority is less than the control group (current measure introduction thresholds) – it could then be evidenced as the right approach for England as a whole.
A lesson to others?
It has also been noted that some Local Authorities have seen very little increase in school based transmission since the beginning of the new term.
I have recently contacted Bath and North East Somerset to ask about their schools and any different measures they have in place for the new term – as like Enfield, they have shown a low rate of infections since schools re-opened. If Enfield are doing anything different to most other local authorities in England – this would be useful to know about and share.
I hope this is sufficient to answer your questions – I am very happy to chat with your education team should they need any clarification.
I feel it is very important to move quickly as I see infections building in schools every day – and this is when looking at what was happening 5 days ago.
Enfield would be the first Local Authority to share data – I understand there will be concerns about how data is used, with this in mind – I would be happy to meet any requirement you have.
At this time – the most important goal is to prove earlier action lowers transmission in schools, this could be achieved by keeping figures private – so data analysis results would only be available to the relevant team which I assume would be Enfield public health.
Data would be presented at Local Authority and school level to include trend charts – which should be suited to spotting opportunities for earlier measures.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information about the project.
You can check at the ODSS Project at the following website: