The Bloomingtonian

Commentary: MCCSC in person classes begin tomorrow; Community deserves transparency

September 3, 2020 – Bloomington, Indiana USA: A sign on the door outside the Acacia Fraternity houses warns visitors the house is under quarantine. Over 30 Greek houses at Indiana University are currently under quarantine, and university officials have recommended they be closed. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

“The first messenger, that gave notice of Lucullus’ coming was so far from pleasing Tigranes that, he had his head cut off for his pains; and no man dared to bring further information. Without any intelligence at all, Tigranes sat while war was already blazing around him, giving ear only to those who flattered him” — Life of Lucullus

The Monroe County Community School Corporation metric committee has decided students will return to school tomorrow, September 8th. This has left community members and teachers scrambling. After an MCCSC school board meeting in July, it was supposed to be decided on September 11th if students would return to school based on community spread, but that meeting was never put on the schedule.

Five MCCSC metric committee members have decided in a meeting closed to the public Monday to reopen schools based on five different metrics.

It’s unclear if the children of any of those committee members actually attend MCCSC schools. However, none of the MCCSC officials have a background in epidemiology and the MCCSC is citing its own metrics based on its own methodology.

To the average person these metrics are indecipherable, and there is no explanation how they arrived at the numbers. But, an expert on statistics knows how statistics can be used to justify just about anything … a number left out here, or there, can skew averages.

There are no criteria on a graph on the front page of the MCCSC website for how the data is gathered or interpreted.

Even worse, statistics on Coronavirus in general have been difficult to access independently, but 36 Monroe County residents have died from the virus, even after most IU students returned home last spring, and local schools were taken online.

People who die in the IU Bloomington Health hospital but are not county residents, are not reflected in county statistics. And few of the names of the casualties have been released to the community due to HIPPA privacy rules. Families are left to grapple with the illness alone, and community members have not been able to mourn the dead. Nationally over 187,000 Americans have died after being infected with the virus. Journalists calling the Indiana State Department of Health are often referred back to state statistics released once per day online.

An outbreak in one skilled nursing center in Bloomington killed at least 18 residents, and sickened workers, but families were not immediately informed of the outbreak.

One of the metrics used to justify returning MCCSC students to classrooms seems to be a positivity rate which the MCCSC site lists as 7.4 percent as the “7 day rolling average”, however the Indiana State Health Department has the 7 day positivity rate for individuals listed as 15-percent as of Monday.

The MCCSC site does not indicate which 7 days were chosen for the average, or take into consideration that according to the Weather Channel’s data there was a 29-percent increase in cases in Monroe County as of September 7th. The weather channel’s data is from, “multiple third-party sources including the World Health Organization, state, and local agencies and other public sources.” In the first part of this pandemic, there were no tests, and no statistics available at all.

https://weather.com/coronavirus/l/Bloomington+IN?canonicalCityId=2237fcec8d355be1e38edb232ca1511a71fc22d9ef03c87cc08b87d66eb2aa55#dataSources

Here are some more statistics:

The highest number of cases reported in Monroe County in one day between June and August 31st was 38.

Indiana University students started classes on August 24th and on August 31st the number of cases reported was 292. And just this last Friday, September 5 an addition 112 new cases were reported in Monroe County for one day.

At Indiana University, 30 out of 40 Greek houses have been placed under quarantine, and the university recommended the houses close and that students leave the houses to return to their permanent places of residence. Acacia fraternity house has an 87-percent infection rate for Coronavirus.

Over Labor Day weekend a large group of Indiana University students rented pontoon boats to hold a party at Lake Monroe. The University has indicated the students may be sanctioned.

Groups of 60 or more IU students gathered at the Showalter Fountain on Friday and Saturday nights, many unmasked. The IUPD responded to a call early Sunday morning of a large group of students at the fountain in a tight group that were “roughhousing.”

The metrics used by the MCCSC are indecipherable, and leave more questions than answers for community members who believe the virus is real. Community members who believe COVID is a hoax cannot be swayed by any statistics, and many have defiantly refused to comply with mask orders.

The rest of us, who believe in science, will have to fend for ourselves.

There is a saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

In-person classes start at MCCSC schools tomorrow. But multiple parents have reached out to The Bloomingtonian decrying a lack of transparency.

September 4, 2020 – Bloomington, Indiana USA: Indiana University students gather in a large group, many unmasked, as the Showalter Fountain Friday night. Thirty out of 40 Greek houses are already under quarantine and university officials recommended the houses be closed, and the students return to their permanent residences. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

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