In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping globe, many local school districts were struggling with the decision on how schools should open for the 2020-2021 academic year. Was it safe to bring students back to the classroom? Should learning take place remotely? Should schools offer a hybrid educational experience, with time split between classroom and remote learning? For educational leaders wrestling with these questions, local data to decisions for their school district was hard to come by.
It was concerns like these that prompted the rise of an ambitious project based at The Ohio State University to provide educational administrators with the timely local information they need to help ensure a safe learning experience for students, staff and teachers. This initiative, known as CATS puts data analytics and visualization tools to work to allow school superintendents and local public health departments in Central Ohio to make critical health and safety decisions with the confidence that comes with timely and local data. CATS served the school-based monitoring needs of 21 local school districts in Central Ohio serving approximately 1.4 million residents and 238,000 school-aged children during the COVID-19 pandemic.