What does this map show?
This map shows all confirmed COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in schools across Canada. Each report is linked to supporting evidence, such as a letter from a school board to parents, report on the school board or public health website, Provincial report, and/or media updates.
Why are you tracking this information?
We are collecting these data to increase transparency about the risk posed by COVID-19 in our schools and to our communities. These data are crucial to help parents and educators make informed decisions around schools, and to help policymakers improve policies for safer schools. Data drives discussion.
Across Canada, COVID school information is not easily accessible or even available. While Ontario mandates that all school boards report cases, Alberta only reports outbreaks of a certain size; British Columbia does not even require the public to be notified of cases in schools. Quebec has gone back and forth between reporting and not reporting COVID cases in schools.
By tracking all cases, our hope is to drive transparency and responsible policies for safer schools.
Who is behind the map?
The map is an initiative of Masks4Canada, a grassroots advocacy group of physicians, professionals and concerned citizens, pushing for safer policies around public health during the COVID-19 crisis. This project is led by Dr. Shraddha Pai, PhD, a data scientist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, and an excellent team of volunteers. All work on this project is done on a 100% volunteer basis.
Where can I see daily updates of your map?
Which schools are included in the map? Do you track universities, daycares, adult education?
Our scope includes K-12 schools. The only exception is Quebec, which includes pre-university schools (Cegep), colleges and adult vocational schools. We are not tracking preschools, daycares, universities, or adult education.
Can I help? I want to volunteer.
Maybe, we have an amazing team but if you’re able to fill a skill gap, let’s chat! Please send us your CV and a note on why you’d be a good fit.
ABOUT THE MAP & SUBMITTING REPORTS
What’s the difference between a case and an outbreak? Why are you showing cases?
A case is a single incidence where a school community member has tested positive for COVID-19. A school may have multiple cases that are unlinked; i.e. there is no evidence of transmission within the school.
An outbreak is defined as multiple cases with evidence for linked transmission; for COVID-19, within 14 days of the previous case at the same site. An outbreak at a school is defined and declared by the local Public Health Unit.
The number of cases in schools in a given region, represents an outbreak risk to a school in that community.
What does “Cluster (BC)” indicate? What is the difference between a cluster and an outbreak?
Unlike other provinces, BC has a different definition for outbreak, where it is is declared (at the discretion of the school medical officer) only if exceptional measures are needed to control transmission, likely if transmission is widespread. Since use of the term outbreak is rare, the term cluster is used to accurately capture the extent of cases at a school. BC defines a cluster as multiple cases (at least 2) of COVID-19 that occur among students and/or staff within a 14 day period (i.e. they attend school during their infectious period).
What do the points show? What do the colours mean?
Each point shows a school with one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19. A yellow point marks one or more unlinked cases. An orange point indicates a declared outbreak. A grey point indicates that the data have not been curated (ie we have not yet confirmed whether or not an outbreak occurred there).
Do you verify the cases entered on the map?
Update 7 March 2021: The short answer is: yes. The long answer is: verify cases in ON, MB, SK, and the Atlantic Provinces. For BC, QC and AB, we rely directly on the cases collected by the most excellent grassroots trackers BC School COVID Tracker, Covid Ecoles Quebec, and SOS Alberta, whose process we have observed for months and record-keeping we’ve found to be diligent.
Why do some ON/MB/SK cases seem to be missing supporting links on your map?
sigh. In late November, our previous website provider accidentally deleted a fraction of uploaded documents from our WordPress website. It was immensely frustrating, after the hard work of our volunteers put in painstakingly collecting each case. We went through our supporting links and removed pointers to these broken links. Those that are preserved, and anything after Jan 1 2021 (when we migrated to our new system, which we manage ourselves on Google Drive) should exist.
What sources do you use to verify the cases on the map?
We use one or more of the following: a letter from school or school board; a confirmed case on the website of the school board or public health unit; a Provincial reporting page (verified by a second source).
Can I just tag you on social media to submit a report?
Update 7 March 2021: The most reliable way to submit a report is through our online form. That way it gets on the to-do list.
I don’t see a case on the map. Can I report it?
Absolutely, please use this form to report a confirmed case. Note that our volunteers verify each case before adding to the map, this could take up to a day to complete.
I see a mistake on the map. Can I report it?
Yes please – we are doing our best to log cases but mistakes are inevitable. Please use this form to report a correction.
Why do you need my email address to submit a report?
We only ask for e-mail addresses in case we need to contact you for additional supporting info (e.g. getting a letter from a school board). We never put e-mail addresses as sources for a report – that is, reporting is anonymous – and we do not sell e-mail addresses.
Why do some of the reports have “NA” for “Total number of staff/students”?
That means that the report only confirmed that there were one or more cases, and did not specify if they were staff or student cases. “NA” in this context means, “not available”. It is our way of acknowledging the case exists, but is not known.
What does it mean when an entry says, “Total number of cases: 1; 1”?
This is an entry for a school that has had multiple reports over a number of days.
“1;1” means the school first reported 1 case and then another case. The corresponding “Date” field will also have two dates. E.g. if a school has “Total number of cases: 1;1” and “Dates: 2020-09-11; 2020-09-14”, that means the school reported 1 case on 11th September and a second case on 14th September.
SUGGESTIONS AND NEW MAP FEATURES
How can I suggest a new feature for the map?
Yes, we have been receiving your tips and we are coming up with some of our own too! Know that our to do list is sorted and we will be working on the most critical problems first and then will add features when we free up more capacity. Keep sharing your ideas on social media or by email, we love hearing from you!
Will you show when a case or outbreak is resolved?
Not at this time. If public health units consistently report when cases are resolved sometime in future we may add this feature but at this time the data would be very hard to consistently get. Our counter will be cumulative since August 2020.
Will you show when a school is forced to close?
We are considering this feature but are still prioritizing some urgent fixes first.