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Olathe teacher draws national attention for COVID-19 spreadsheet

Data shows outbreaks in schools around the nation
Alisha Morris
Posted at 3:10 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 19:10:28-04

OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe West teacher has taken the coronavirus pandemic head on by creating a public spreadsheet of outbreaks in schools across the nation.

"It wasn't planned," Alisha Morris, an Olathe West High School theater teacher, said. "It was just a way for me to have something to do that felt productive."

The spreadsheet, she said, began out of her own curiosity.

"I kind of went looking for that information, and I couldn't find it compiled anywhere," Morris said.

She collected the data by locating news articles about positive COVID-19 cases in schools in the United States. If she found them credible, she added it to the spreadsheet, which is available for the public to view. The data is broken into states and contains a number of categories, including the city, district, number of positive cases and link to the article.

What started as a personal resource for data grew into a nationwide resource.

"I probably got at least 800 schools listed," Morris said.

Word got out about the database and now people are sending her hundreds of articles per day. To make inputting the information into the spreadsheet go faster, she has 40 volunteers from coast to coast fact checking and entering data.

One of those volunteers, Danett Williams, said children are "being put in danger every day and here in America." Williams, a school psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area, is sometimes up until 1 a.m. entering in information, which she said is emotional but has to be done.

“School administrators need to know," Williams said. "Parents and school boards need to know that people are being infected at school."

The Olathe teacher said she is glad people are constantly reading the spreadsheet and that it's getting attention. At the end of the day, she said, everyone needs to know what's happening in schools across the country.

"My goal is to help those districts leaders make a more informed decision without having to do as much research as I had to do," Morris said.

Links to anonymously submit an article for consideration can be found on the spreadsheet itself.