NYC Council bills would require Education Dept. to report more detailed attendance, COVID-19 data

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A pair of bills set to be introduced to the City Council this week would require the Education Department to report school attendance in raw numbers rather than percentages, as questions swirl over enrollment in the nation’s largest school system.

The bills from Councilman Mark Treyger, chairman of the Education Committee, would also require officials to disclose how many students in each school are vaccinated, how many kids and staff members have had to quarantine after a school virus exposure, and how many families have agreed to participate in random COVID-19 testing.

“If we have this type of granular data and information, it helps us target more support to communities who need it,” Treyger said.

The bills were set to be introduced first to the Education Committee on Wednesday, and then to the entire Council on Thursday. If they pass, the Department of Education would have 30 days to start providing weekly reports.

Treyger said attendance numbers would better help quantify enrollment or attendance changes spurred by the pandemic.

City officials have resisted providing raw enrollment and attendance data because school rosters are still in flux. Last school year, the DOE provided full enrollment data showing a 4% register drop in January.

The bills would also mandate more granular reporting of COVID data. City officials currently provide a cumulative count of cases across the school system, the number of classrooms fully or partially shut down after an exposure, and the percentage of positive tests turned up by the weekly random testing program.

But Treyger said more specific information on the number of kids and staff forced to isolate, the student vaccination rates at each school, and the percentage of families at each school that agreed to participate in random testing could give families and educators a clearer picture of how well COVID mitigation measures are working.

Education Department spokesman Nathaniel Styer said, “We post attendance data every day and are fully transparent with our in-school testing and situation room data. We look forward to working with the Council to continue to provide accurate information to the public.”

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