William & Mary has launched an online dashboard to keep the community informed about the university’s return-to-campus COVID-19 testing results.
The second phase of the dashboard launched this week and features data from W&M’s testing program, including the number of tests conducted and the number of positive test results among students and employees.
The university has partnered with Kallaco and VCU Health Services to test all students before their return to W&M this fall as well as any employees who may be working on campus. The university also began prevalence testing Aug. 24 for students and employees on campus.
According to the dashboard, 4,422 students and 604 employees had been tested by Aug. 25. As of that date, a total of 13 students tested positive as part of the university’s pre-arrival program, meaning they tested positive before arriving on campus and were not permitted to come to campus. Students were and still are required to remain at home until they receive a negative test result. None of the students who tested positive are currently on campus. Less than 10 employees have tested positive, and they are also required to remain at home.
“No one should take these early results as license to relax our vigilance,” W&M President Katherine A. Rowe said in a message to campus Aug. 18. “We need to turn these rules of behavior into habits of behavior. It is imperative that we all hold ourselves accountable for keeping our campus and neighbors safe.”
Created by Information Technology with assistance from University Communications and Procurement, the dashboard is meant to inform the campus community of both the progress of the return-to-campus testing program and the latest data coming out of the Virginia Department of Health, according to Louis Hubert, IT senior applications administrator. The data on the dashboard is expected to be updated daily, and while it will not show the full extent of potential spread, it can provide a snapshot in time of the relative prevalence of the virus within the community.
The dashboard should be useful to anyone who has an interest in the progress of the testing campaign, said Hubert.
“This includes all facets of the campus community, but also members of the community at large,” said Scott Steward, IT technology architect.
The first iteration of the dashboard launched Aug. 18 and primarily featured regional data from the Virginia Department of Health. The data on the dashboard is being provided by Kallaco and VCU Health Services or pulled from publicly available VDH feeds.
The team that created the dashboard is looking to continue expanding its offerings, possibly incorporating more detailed data from VDH, a GIS-style map visualization and prevalence testing data in the future.
“We would really appreciate any feedback on what data and visualizations are most relevant to the community and decision-makers,” said Hubert.
The dashboard is important because it tells a story, said Hubert.
“It illustrates how the university is taking steps to provide a safer environment for the campus community and is a key component to proper decision-making both in the present and moving forward,” he said.
It would be unrealistic to predict that there will be no cases in the W&M community this fall, Rowe said in her email.“Yet it is within our control to limit the spread of this virus,” she said. “Mask up. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Fully-embraced, these habits of care and respect will have a direct impact on the trajectory of W&M’s fall semester.”