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AASA, Epistemix work to ensure safer school reopenings amid COVID

Image courtesy of Epistemix

As the nation continues to navigate through COVID-19, AASA, The School Superintendents Association and Epistemix are teaming up to help school systems leverage best in-class data and epidemiological practice to determine safe reopening strategies.

The Pittsburgh-based company has spent decades leading the response to smallpox, measles, HIV, SARS and other epidemics by simulating how they spread through schools and communities under different scenarios.

“Educators, students, parents and staff are struggling to figure out how to keep kids and communities safe and how to enable learning in the face of an unprecedented pandemic,” said John Cordier, chief executive officer, Epistemix. “We are determined to provide superintendents with data-informed analyses for their specific situations to formulate and compare opening strategies for their schools and better understand the impact of their decisions. The pandemic represents an opportunity for us all to leverage data and scientific best practices to build more resilient communities.”

“In addition to making the usual safety, operational and educational decisions, superintendents are now expected to assess the current landscape in order to make critical choices regarding public health,” said Neil English, superintendent, Riverview (Pa.) School District. “Navigating the health crisis is unchartered territory, and school leaders are tirelessly managing the confluence of local, state and federal mandates, CDC guidelines, and local health metrics in order to assess risk and make informed decisions regarding the health and safety of the students and their families.”

Epistemix’s Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics (FRED) is an agent-based modeling platform for simulating how conditions spread through populations. FRED is used to figure out how and why particular conditions—such as diseases, ideas, behaviors, attitudes and economic status—impact communities so that leaders can improve their policy interventions with specific, local data.

“Superintendents must make crucial decisions that impact both educational outcomes and public health,” said Chuck Woodruff, chief operating officer, AASA. “AASA is steadfastly focused on providing school system leaders with the resources and support necessary to help guide school districts through the pandemic.”

“As superintendents are not public health experts, at times this can feel like flying in the dark,” added English. “Epistemix helps to lead the way by providing much needed projection and modeling data that can help superintendents make more informed decisions; and more informed decisions are a valuable commodity in the wake of COVID-19.”

For more information about Epistemix, click here.