Why are precise data on infections in schools not published?

Why are precise data on infections in schools not published?

Public information on the Covid-19 epidemic in schools is few and too general. These data exist, it is a pity that they are not made available in open format

(Photo: Nicolò Campo / Sipa Usa) 5,793 students and 1,020 positive teachers as of 10 October. These are the latest numbers available on new coronavirus infections in the school, after the reopening that began on September 14th. Numbers that summarize the monitoring that the Ministry of Education carries out with the collaboration of school managers. Poor numbers, which tell us very little about what is happening in schools. On the one hand because there is no reference to the type of institution, on the other because they contain a national situation, without any local distinction. Were there more infections in elementary or high schools? Do we have provinces or regions more in difficulty or is the distribution uniform throughout the territory?

We don't know. And who knows when we will know, because, they write from Viale Trastevere, almost as a counterpoint to our recent appeal precisely on these data, "the Ministry of Education announces that it has shared, from the very beginning, the results of the monitoring conducted through school managers with the Higher Institute of Health, to contribute to epidemiological analyzes ”, according to a statement issued on the evening of 29 October by the staff of Minister Lucia Azzolina. Put simply, the ministry collects the data but only gives it to the ISS. At the moment, the meager summary must suffice for public opinion, as if these numbers were not of collective interest.

It is right that the Higher Institute of Health uses them for epidemiological investigations (and hopefully one dedicated to school will soon arrive), but this does not exclude that they can and must be in the public domain, in an open format . They could in fact serve us to have proof that schools are not having any role in the spread of the infection (which we all hope, of course, but which seems hardly credible). But they could also be useful in telling us that we are not doing enough and need to change strategy (and this does not necessarily mean general closures).

It is essential that the data are in the hands of the Higher Institute of Health, which constantly updates us with calculations and infographics on infections in Italy. Too bad that these are generally provided in convenient pdfs, already packaged or in any case in closed format. The same happens on the Epicentro website, dedicated to the epidemiological control of the ISS. By virtue of transparent and open communication, the World Health Organization in this regard has extensive usable databases and among these also the numbers on Covid-19, easily available and downloadable. It would therefore be time for Italy to adapt, overcoming an incomprehensible jealousy of its numbers, especially during a health crisis like the one we are experiencing.

For these reasons Wired has decided to submit the Ministry of Education and the Higher Institute of Health to a request according to the Foia (Freedom Of Information Act) for access to school data relating to infections, for category of institution and municipality to which it belongs. The same Foia that was suspended during the first acute phase of the Covid-19 epidemic and which we hope will be given greater consideration during this second wave. Because we still need transparency.

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