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Changes to the WPI COVID-19 Dashboard

DEPARTMENT(S): 
September 25, 2020

As one of the university’s key tools in protecting the campus community, WPI’s routine testing program is comprehensive and dynamic.  All students, faculty, and staff who are on campus are tested at least once per week, and a third are tested twice per week. This not only allows the university to quickly respond to and isolate any positive cases, it also helps us carefully monitor the trends that may impact our overall community.  And it provides useful insight for our community as we work together to manage the potential risks of COVID-19 on our campus.

To share information with our community—with students and families, faculty, staff, neighbors, and others—WPI launched its COVID-19 Dashboard in late August 2020 as our testing program was ramping up and we reopened our campus. The Dashboard provides a snapshot of the number of tests, positive rates, and the number of students in isolation or quarantine, as well as external data about COVID-19 cases in Worcester and Massachusetts.

And true to the WPI way of learning, working, and responding to the world around us, we’re iterating on this dashboard as our testing program has evolved and as we’ve determined how best to provide the  information our community needs. On September 24, 2020, several changes were made to the dashboard, primarily focused on how it reflects the number of WPI students in quarantine and isolation, and the number of tests. 

Isolation and Quarantine:  These numbers will now include students who are in isolation or quarantine both on and off campus. Previously, the number reflected only those in WPI isolation and quarantine space.

  • On-Campus includes students who are quarantining in residence halls, fraternities and sororities, and students in isolation in WPI’s dedicated isolation space. 
  • Off-Campus includes students who are isolating or quarantining in their off-campus apartments/homes, and those who have returned to their permanent residence (i.e., their family home).

Test Numbers:  Previously, we posted the number of tests performed at WPI via our routine testing program. Instead, we are now posting the number of test results received the previous day (as of 11:59 p.m.), which provides for a more accurate calculation of the positivity rate. Not all tests performed get processed: a small and variable number—on the order of 0.5% —are invalid or cannot be read for a variety of reasons, and thus are not counted. Repeat positives and confirmatory tests are also not included in this number.

Daily Positive Test Histogram:  We have added a daily positive test histogram for the past 30 days to provide a more visual understanding of the trends affecting our campus community.  

External data from Worcester and the state are updated on WPI’s dashboard as they are available. Please note, those figures are not always available at the time the dashboard is updated in the afternoon; in such cases, they get updated the next business day. 

Symptom Tracker Reminder: Previously, we had a reminder for students to utilize the symptom tracker at the top of the dashboard page. We have removed this announcement as students are now familiar with the symptom tracker procedure. Prior to it's removal, the reminder read as follows: "The daily Symptom Tracker is a critical tool in the university’s strategy to protect the health and safety of the entire campus community. Every student, faculty member, and staff member who has access to campus needs to use this tool every morning as they start their day.  If symptoms develop (even mild symptoms) at any point in the day, please complete the symptom tracker immediately via the WPI app or website."