UC Berkeley receives grade of A for COVID-19 dashboard by Yale University rating system

Covid Testing Site
Gisselle Reyes/File
Of the UC campuses, only UC Berkeley and UC San Diego scored an A in the system’s ratings.

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A COVID-19 data-reporting ratings system created by Yale University professors gave UC Berkeley’s COVID-19 dashboard an A rating on its A to F grading scale.

The ratings system was co-created by Yale public health professor Howard Forman, who was following country, state and city level COVID-19 data and became interested in how universities report and keep track of COVID-19 statistics. The ratings are posted on his team’s website.

“I was just going to do it as my own little thing,” Forman said. “Then my colleague at Yale who is a far better scholar than I am and definitely more fastidious about trying to be as objective as possible, as opposed to what I was going to do, which was sort of like, ‘Oh! I like this dashboard and I don’t like this one. Here are the reasons.’ He wanted to come up with a grading scale, which I thought was a great idea.”

According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Heather Harper, seven of the nine UC campuses currently have COVID-19 dashboards.

Of those campuses, only UC Berkeley and UC San Diego scored an A in the system’s ratings. The ratings are based on a dashboard’s readability, types of data shown and frequency of updates, among other criteria.

The grading system is not linear, Forman said. For example, the difference between A and A- and between C and C- may vary.

According to University Health Services, or UHS, spokesperson Tami Cate, UC Berkeley is “glad” to receive an A-grade, and she believes that the rating reflects the quality of the dashboard.

“It’s a helpful tool that allows us to see case trends over time and provides early identification of potential case clusters,” Cate said in an email. “It also helps the campus see how are COVID rates are doing as they plan for campus operations.”

UHS reports the number of positive cases and the positivity rate of tests daily, according to Cate. Cate added that UC Berkeley compares campus level data trends to the rest of Berkeley.

Connecting campus COVID-19 data to the surrounding community is very important, Forman also noted.

“The real importance is to the community and to the other stakeholders,” Forman said. “You don’t want students getting infected then spreading it to the rest of the community. If you are a parent you should want to know that your child is safe and if you are a student you want to know that your campus is safe.”

Contact Robson Swift at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.