School Reopening Dashboard & Guidance

The two key components to reopening school buildings for in-person instruction are the quality of the school’s mitigation plan, and the level of spread occurring within the community where the school is located. Public Health has created a dashboard tool to assist with decision- making for the types of learning scenario schools may consider for re-opening. We also have provided guidance for when to consider pulling back on in-person instruction once re-opened. This dashboard will allow decision-makers to view their selected area’s overall risk level related to community transmission of COVID-19 and the recommended learning scenario, or delivery model of instruction, based on that status. Data used to generate this report are based upon the benchmarks and thresholds for re-opening established by the Arizona Department of Health Services. If you have questions about the dashboard or are a school in need of technical assistance, please Contact Us.

NEW for 9/24 update:

  • Open File data now available! Download complete data from the two most recent weeks, including case rates, PCR percent positivity, and shape files, here. Complete historic data since May will be available in the coming weeks. Click here for downloadable CSV files by geography (zip, city, school district) of respective weekly case rates from first week of June.
  • We have added a new section of FAQs for parents & caregivers to our website. Feel free to share these with your school community. Please let us know if you have specific communication material needs.
  • Just a reminder, we have included guidance for when schools should consider pulling back on in-person instruction once they've re-opened. It is recommended as schools re-open they continue to monitor their area data weekly.



USING THE DASHBOARD


Utilizing the map below, reports can be viewed by Zip Code, City, Unified School District, High School District or Elementary District by selecting from the “View report by” drop-down menu. By clicking on your selected area on the map, a pop-up report will generate a value for that area's overall COVID-19 community transmission risk level and the recommended learning scenario.

Note: Individual schools (public, private, or charter) are viewable on the map, but are not a report category. This is because community transmission risk for schools is best evaluated in the context of the communities they are located in.


This dashboard is updated weekly on Thursdays by 9 a.m.
Dashboard last updated: Sept. 24, 2020
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Report Footnotes

1 Most recent data for confirmed and probable case rates and PCR test percent positivity* are calculated using area-selected data from 9/6/20-9/12/20. COVID-like illness (CLI) percentage of hospital visits is calculated using county-wide surveillance data for the week of 9/13/20 to 9/19/20.

2 Prior week's data for confirmed and probable case rates and PCR test percent positivity* are calculated using area-selected data from 8/30/20-9/5/20. COVID-like illness (CLI) percentage of hospital visits is calculated using county-wide surveillance data for the week of 9/6/20 to 9/12/20.

View the calendar of dashboard updates and corresponding data time periods.

*Please see Percent Positivity recommendation to initiate hybrid learning in Considerations for Viewing Benchmark Data below.

**If the area selected has a % positivity noted as “NA” in a gray box, this means there were <10 total tests done in that area during the specified week. In these cases, which might change from week to week, the % positivity metric will not be used in determining the overall community spread in that area (i.e., whether it appears as Red, Yellow, or Green).

Additional notes:

  • Geographic regions with smaller populations will have case rates that vary more widely due to the small population denominator.
  • The metrics for areas that cross county lines only include case, test, and population data for Maricopa County residents. These data are representative of the case rate and % positivity for the portion of the area that is in Maricopa County and are not representative of the case rate and % positivity for the entire geographic area.

About the Data

The MCDPH schools dashboard will be updated every Thursday around 9 a.m. Case rates and PCR test percent positivity are calculated using area-selected data covering the two-week period ending 12 days earlier. The Covid-like illness (CLI) percentage of hospital visits are calculated using the most-up-to-date county-wide surveillance data from the previous two weeks, providing a more "real-time" snapshot of emergency department and inpatient hospitalization activity related to COVID-19.

Note: ADHS has determined that a decline in weekly average cases for two consecutive weeks (not including the current week) will also meet the case rate metric for the initial return to a hybrid in-person/distance learning model. Maricopa County confirmed and probable case count data by week can be viewed here.

Download complete data from the two most recent weeks, including case rates, PCR percent positivity, and shape files, here. Complete historic data since May will be available in the coming weeks. Click here for downloadable CSV files by geography (zip, city, school district) of respective weekly case rates from first week of June.

Selecting the View Area

We know that schools may serve families who do not live within the district boundaries and that staff may come from all over the county. This dashboard allows you to review data by ZIP code, city/town, or school district to determine the best reopening option for your school or district. When selecting the view area, choose the option that best represents the area in which the majority of students and staff live. For example:

  • A school that serves mostly students residing in their city or town could use city-level data.
  • A district for which the majority of students reside within the district could use district-level data.
  • A school that draws students from an area broader than district boundaries could use a set of regional zip codes to define their region and average the case rates per 100,000 population and test percent positivity.
  • A school that draws students from across the valley could use county-level data.

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BENCHMARKS & LEARNING SCENARIOS

The Community Spread Benchmarks

ADHS defines community spread levels with the weekly thresholds outlined below:

Benchmarks

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Cases< 10 cases/100k 10-100 cases/100k > 100 cases/100k
Percent Positivity < 5% 5-10% *> 10%
COVID-like Illness< 5%  5-10% > 10%


Considerations for Viewing Benchmark Data

Case rates/number of cases

ADHS offers two metrics – a decline in weekly average cases for 2 consecutive weeks OR case rates below 100 cases per 100,000 population for 2 consecutive weeks.

MCDPH recommends using case rates to evaluate spread of disease in your area because a case rate will more accurately reflect what is happening in your community by accounting for population size. 

*Percent positivity

MCDPH recommends putting greatest weight on PCR test percent (%) positivity – the proportion of all PCR tests performed that week that are positive. A higher % positivity can indicate that there is more disease spreading within the community, or it can mean that there is not enough available testing in the area.

The Dashboard reflects a % positivity range of 5-10% as correlating to “moderate community spread,” which aligns with the threshold set by ADHS. To move from a virtual to hybrid learning scenario, ADHS and MCDPH recommend schools wait until there is <7% positivity in their area for two consecutive weeks. This provides evidence that there is a sustained decrease in community spread and sufficient testing is available. If your area is highlighted in yellow and the recommended learning scenario indicated is “virtual with onsite support,” it is because your area has not yet reached two weeks with a % positivity <7%. Read more on this recommendation in Re-Opening and Learning Scenarios below.

COVID-like illness percentage of hospital visits

This information comes from a surveillance system that monitors the percent of people who visit emergency rooms and hospitals with symptoms of COVID-19. This is the first signal that a decrease or increase in community spread of COVID-19 is occurring. The COVID-like illness data are available on a county-wide basis only. 

Re-opening and Learning Scenarios

The dashboard tool will provide you with a recommended learning scenario report based on the level of spread in your community.

In order to begin offering hybrid learning (some students in physical buildings and some students distance learning), ADHS and MCDPH recommend benchmarks fall within the moderate (Yellow) community spread category in all three benchmarks AND % positivity is <7%, for two consecutive weeks. In order to move to Traditional learning (all students in physical buildings), ADHS and MCDPH recommend benchmarks fall within the minimal (Green) community spread category in all three benchmarks for two consecutive weeks.

TraditionalTraditional

Learning Scenario 1

HybridHybrid 
Learning Scenario 2*

VirtualVirtual w/Onsite Support
Learning Scenario 3

All 3 benchmarks in the green category for two consecutive weeks of data.All 3 benchmarks in the “yellow” or “green” categories for two consecutive weeks of data.One or more benchmarks in the “red” category for two consecutive weeks of data
Minimal community spread:
Evidence of isolated cases or limited community transmission, case investigations underway; no evidence of exposure in large communal setting
Moderate Community Spread: Sustained transmission with high likelihood or confirmed exposure within communal settings and potential for rapid increase in cases
Substantial community spread:
Large scale, controlled community transmission, including communal settings (e.g., schools, workplaces)

To move from a Virtual to Hybrid learning scenario, ADHS and MCDPH recommend schools wait until there is <7% positivity in their area for two consecutive weeks. This provides evidence that there is a sustained decrease in community spread and sufficient testing is available. If your area is highlighted in yellow and the recommended learning scenario indicated is “virtual with onsite support,” it is because your area has not yet reached two weeks with a % positivity <7%.

Once an area meets a % positivity of  <7% for two consecutive weeks, the Learning Scenario recommendation will continue to be Hybrid as long as the % positivity stays under the Moderate spread threshold of 10%. Once re-opened, schools should continue to use the Dashboard to monitor the overall transmission risk level in their community and surrounding areas to help them assess any changes needed to their re-opening plans.

* There are two Learning Scenarios that can be recommended when there is Moderate Community Spread: 1.) Virtual Learning with Onsite Support when an area has a weekly test % positivity of 7-10%, or 2.) Hybrid once the community has met the recommended threshold for percent positivity of < 7% for 2 consecutive weeks.

Recommendations for Resuming In-Person Learning

MCDPH recommends the following benchmark thresholds be met prior to offering any in-person learning:

  • Cases: Two consecutive weeks with new case rates below 100 per 100,000 people1 
  • PCR Test percent positivity: Two consecutive weeks with less than 7% positivity 
  • COVID-like Illness percentage of hospital visits: Two consecutive weeks with percent of hospital visits showing symptoms of COVID-like illness below 10%

 1ADHS has determined that a decline in weekly average cases for two consecutive weeks (not including the current week) will also meet the case metric for the initial return to a hybrid in-person/distance learning model. Maricopa County confirmed and probable case count data by week can be viewed here.  

On-Site Learning and Services Waiver

EO 2020-51 requires schools to provide on-site support services so that students who need a place to go or who have specific needs are well-supported, which allows schools to offer successful distance learning for all students. A waiver is only required and permitted if all on-site services will cease due to an outbreak.

MCDPH has determined that in order to be eligible to receive Public Health support for a waiver from the Arizona Department of Education, a school district must have a weekly COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 population that is more than twice the rate of Maricopa County for two consecutive weeks. Public Health has provided the school district area case rates needed for waiver eligibility  (two consecutive weeks of data)  in the red outlined boxes below. These boxes will be updated weekly to coincide with dashboard data updates by Thursdays at 4 p.m. Visit the ADE website for more information about the waiver request process

Maricopa County Case Rates Per 100,000 People

Most Recent Week's Rate Benchmark: Dates 09/06/20 - 09/12/20
31 cases per 100,000 Maricopa County residents per week
school benchmark dashboard indicator for most recent week

Cases per 100k people needed for waiver eligibility: >62 cases/100k

 
Prior Week's Rate Benchmark: Dates 08/30/20 - 09/05/20 *
43 cases per 100,000 Maricopa County residents per week
school benchmark dashboard indicator for prior week

Cases per 100k needed for waiver eligibility: >86 cases/100k

What Happens After Re-Opening

After transitioning to an in-person instruction model (Traditional or Hybrid), schools should continue to utilize this dashboard to regularly monitor their area-specific level  (i.e., the geographic area that best represents a school’s student body) of community transmission. If community spread in the area begins to increase, MCDPH recommends schools proactively begin discussions about a potential need to return to a more physically-distanced learning scenario. Schools are best-suited to make decisions about the learning environments that best meet the needs of the student populations they serve.

MCDPH offers the following guidance to decision-makers about when to consider pulling back on in-person learning based on an increase of community spread over two consecutive weeks of data:  

  • When an area's risk level has gone from Minimal to Moderate, MCDPH recommends that school decision-makers begin planning a transition from Traditional to Hybrid to reduce in-person learning at physical locations the first week that the data changes.  If the geographic area remains at the higher level of community spread for a second consecutive week, MCDPH recommends that schools shift from Traditional to Hybrid (or Virtual with onsite support, if desired). If the second week of data reverts back to the lower level of community spread, no change to the current learning scenario is recommended.
  • When an area's risk level has gone from Minimal to Substantial OR Moderate  to Substantial,  MCDPH recommends that school decision-makers begin planning a transition from Traditional or Hybrid  learning to Virtual with onsite support the first week that the data changes.  If the geographic area remains at the higher level of community spread for a second consecutive week, MCDPH recommends that schools shift to Virtual with onsite support.  If the second week of data reverts back to the lower level of community spread, no change to the current learning scenario is recommended.

It’s important that decision-makers stay updated with local and state health and education authorities on the latest COVID-19 community health data and school-related guidance for re-opening. MCDPH can provide local guidance in interpreting the benchmark data and in identifying mitigation strategies that schools may implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff. Additional guidance for re-opening can also be found in the Arizona Department of Education’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools.

How and when a school re-opens will be specific to its unique needs and circumstances. Guidance to schools will likely evolve as our understanding of the virus grows and more scientific evidence becomes available. If you have questions, email us.


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Frequently Asked Questions

The Arizona Department of Health Services developed the benchmark thresholds at the request of the education community as a guide to help school districts determine when it is safe to return to in-person instruction. The experiences of other countries have indicated that reopening schools may be lower risk in communities with lower community transmission.

The health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, staff, and their families are the most important considerations in determining when schools can open for in-person learning



The Maricopa County dashboard was created to provide schools and families a user-friendly way to interpret benchmark re-opening data that would help them identify which learning scenario model (traditional, hybrid, or virtual with onsite support) would be recommended based on their community’s overall level of transmission.

The Arizona Department of Health Services school dashboard provides county-level data for all three benchmark metrics. For schools that draw students from across Maricopa County, using the state dashboard for county-level data may be sufficient.

Given the physical size of our county and its varied population densities, it’s important for schools to be able to view the level of transmission occurring in the geographic areas they serve. We have provided data that can be viewed by ZIP code, city, and school district level to give decision-makers multiple options in sorting data that best represent the area in which the majority of students live. Case rate and test percent positivity data are calculated for the geographic area selected (zip code, city, or school district). COVID-like illness is calculated using countywide syndromic surveillance data.



Test percent positivity is the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19 (by a PCR test) out of all people in the community who have been tested during the same time period. For the purposes of the school dashboard, a “community” is defined by the selected area (ZIP code, city or school district) being viewed on the map. Two separate weeks of data for that area are provided to help provide a directional trend of a community’s overall transmission level.

  • A decreasing percentage of positive tests indicates enough testing is available in the community and that that transmission of the virus is slowing in that area.
  • An increasing percent positivity suggests higher transmission of disease is occurring in the community or that there is less testing available in that area and people with symptoms are more likely to be tested.

If people with symptoms are more likely to be tested, there are likely more people with COVID-19 in the community who haven’t been tested. This may mean more cases are going undetected, including those who don’t have symptoms and may be spreading the virus without knowing they’re infected.



To move from a virtual to hybrid learning scenario, ADHS and MCDPH both recommend schools wait until there is <7% positivity in their area for two consecutive weeks. This percent positivity threshold was selected after extensive review of other national and state metrics as well as analysis of local data transmission trends.

A test percent positivity under 7% for two full weeks of data provides some assurance that there is a sustained decrease in community spread and sufficient testing is available. Waiting until this lower threshold is met also may provide decision-makers more time to take a phased-in approach to in-person learning.

If your area is highlighted in yellow and the recommended learning scenario indicated is red and reads “Virtual with onsite support,” it is because your area has not yet reached two weeks with a % positivity <7%.



If the area selected has a % positivity noted as “NA” in a gray box, this means there were fewer than 10 total tests done in that area during the specified week. In these cases, which might change from week to week, the % positivity metric will not be used in determining the overall community spread in that area (i.e., whether it appears as Red, Yellow, or Green).



In order for schools to initiate any type of in-person learning, there are two questions to consider:

  • When can we safely reopen schools for in-person learning?
  • If we can reopen schools for in-person learning, how do we do that safely?

The community spread benchmark thresholds are recommendations for school decision-makers to use as a guide in deciding when it may be safe to initiate a move to in-person learning. The quality of a school's mitigation plan, which identifies how it will protect the health of students, staff, and teachers upon re-opening, is a critical part in determining its readiness. Strategies schools may consider to reduce the risk of transmission among students and staff are shared in the Arizona Department of Education’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools guidance. These include things such as modifying classroom layouts to promote physical distancing, encouraging behaviors that reduce spread such as hand hygiene and use of facial coverings, and maintaining healthy environments through enhanced cleaning and proper ventilation.

Schools are required to share their mitigation plans on their website prior to offering on-site support services and/or in-person instruction. If schools have questions about their mitigation plans, decision-makers can reach out to Public Health for guidance.



A hybrid model is a combined instructional approach of having some students partake in in-person learning, while some students engage in virtual learning. This might involve students being on campus on certain days of the week. On other days, they would learn at-home with online components. There are various ways this learning model can be implemented and will vary based on the unique needs of each school community and the students they serve.

Remember, the type of learning scenario recommended for a selected area is based on the area’s overall risk level of community spread. However, this does not mean a school has to choose that recommended scenario. It is up to school district decision-makers to determine the delivery model of instruction that best meet the needs of the students and families they serve. More information about this process can be found in the Arizona Department of Education’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools guidance.


For additional school-related FAQs, click here.

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Planning and Guidance Resources

Additional school guidance for prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 and reporting outbreaks, can be found here.



Contact Us

Still have questions?

Send us a message.

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