I have been semi-regularly recording the active COVID-19 cases for students and staff of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPA). Recently AACPS has been updating their data daily, but life has gotten in the way, so I have not remembered to check the data daily and they do not publish the archived data.

As of October 13, 2021, the number of student active cases was the highest on October 1, 2021, when there were 237 active cases. The higher number of staff cases I recorded was on September 27, 2021, when there were 33 active cases. The number of active cases seems to be trending downward. I hope the trend continues. I

I plan to calculate the percentage of students and staff with active cases so I can compare the data, but I have not yet found the time to find the data with the number of students and staff for this year. Until I do that calculation I do not know if a higher percentage of students or staff have had active cases.

Data Notes From Anne ArunDel County Pubic Schools

1. The tables on this page reflect positive cases, confirmed by testing, with an onset date  of September 8, 2021, or later that have been made known to Anne Arundel County      Public Schools. Schools/Offices with zero student or staff cases do not appear in the tables. The data also includes cases of COVID-like symptoms in which a      person is not tested for a period of 48 hours after onset of symptoms, and probable cases, which occur when an individual with a COVID-like symptoms is found to have close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. Such cases are treated as if they are positive for COVID-19 in terms of identification of close contacts and potential exposures. Cases that appear on this dashboard and are later determined to be false positives or the like will be deleted in subsequent updates.

2. An “active case” is one in which the individual who tested positive is still under 10-day quarantine.

3. A positive case, COVID-like symptoms case, or probable case does not mean the individual exposed others at school or work, or that the individual contracted the virus at school or work.

4. Students enrolled in virtual-only learning and who are not part of any extracurricular activities are not included in this data.

5. Due to differences in reporting methodology, this information may not match the data presented by the Maryland Department of Health.

This map reflects the total outbreak-associated cases in schools on October 6, 2021. This is an update of the September 9, 2021 map.

Currently Quaranting

This chart shows the number of students and staff currently quarantining according to Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) COVID-19 data dashboard. The dashboard is currently being updated daily, but I have not been diligent about collecting the data daily; therefore there is data missing from some days. So far, according to the data I recorded, the number of students quarantining peaked at 1,756 on September 29, 2021. On that date, there were 40 staff members quarantining, which was also a high point.

Below I have copied what AACPS says about who is included in the number of students and staff currently quarantining.

The number of current quarantine cases above includes those who are COVID-19 positive through confirmed testing, those who have been designated as having COVID-like symptoms, and those who are probable cases as defined below on this page. It also includes those who have been determined to be close contacts of those persons and who are not fully vaccinated. The data includes cases traced in schools as well as those involving AACPS students that are traced in the community and have no immediate impact on schools.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools

THoughts about the Chart

I like that datawrapper provides several options for displaying the date at the bottom of a chart. Because I have taken foreign languages and lived abroad, I have used both the day/month/year date formate and the month/day/year formate. I find it sort of confusing switching between the format conventions, so I'm happy that there is an option that eliminates that potential confusion by using the month abbreviations as such "Sep" or "Oct" with the date number above. I find this date format easier to read.

I used the straight number of students and staff currently quarantining for this chart because I was interested in the actual numbers. I could also show the percentage of students and staff currently quarantining. I would need to find an accurate count of students and staff for the current school year to make that chart.

Keeping up with the COVID-19 data published by Anne Arundel County Public Schools on an individual school basis is not really sustainable because it is currently being published daily. The data can not be downloaded so it has to be transcribed by hand. So I am looking at some other ways to visualize the data that might be less time-intensive, and still informative. My primary goals are to 1) learn how to build various data visualizations, and 2) explore the utility of various data visualizations. Maintaining a data dashboard, unless I am curious about the data that day is not my primary purpose.

One idea is to look at the cumulative COVID-19 cases by both students and staff on a daily basis. I did not think to capture this data earlier, so I have a few days of data missing. I also have missing days because life got in the way. It doesn’t seem hard to enter in a few data points every day until you get wrapped up in life and then you realize that you haven’t even looked at the website in a few days. I wish that they published the data in a way that I could download their archival data, but I will take what they share. The Maryland Health Department publishes their archival school outbreak data; however, their data only reflects outbreaks (as they have defined them) and is only published once a week on Wednesdays. Because of the missing data, I used the step model of lines as I think it is a more honest way to show the data.

This line chart shows the cumulative daily COVID-19 cases for students and staff for the 2021-2022 school year. The number of cases are from the Anne Arundel County Public Schools data dashboard. I have added dots for the days that I recorded the published data. There are no dots on the days that I do not record the data.

Usually, I write about data visualizations and education policy. Today I am going to write about the fundraiser I am going to do for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in conjunction with the Game Theory Community Challenge 2021. With the recent loss of our family cat [EDIT 2: our cat returned a week later, we are now looking to bring happiness into the world in thanksgiving], my 10-year-old son and I decided that we wanted to bring some good to the world. He came across the Game Theory Community Challenge that is happening during the month of October 2021, and he said that we had to join this year as fundraisers, not just as donors. The details of what we are going to do to raise funds are still unclear beyond putting the word out that we are fundraising. His idea is for us to bake and sell sourdough bread. While I am grateful for his faith in my baking, I am unsure of the logistics. So while I try to figure out the logistics, I am just going to put our request out into the universe.

My son got into St. Jude’s mission last year when he was 9 through the Game Theory Community Challenge on YouTube. He got excited about the mission and asked for help in donating some of his own money to the cause, and convinced me to donate. This year he wanted to do more by asking for donations from others and I agreed to help. My son believes in St. Jude’s mission to give kids free cancer treatments free of charge. He says that he thinks that cancer treatments must cost a lot of money and childhood cancer must be scary for the kids and the parents.

So if you are interested in donating to St. Jude’s, and bring joy to a kid that wants to help other kids. Click here to donate. We are team “I-like-rice”.


Game Theory Community Challege for St. Jude’s 2021 Data Visulizations

Edit: Actually, I have an idea. I am going to try to figure out ways to visualize the data from the challenge! I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with the data, but I have a few visualizations that I would like to try with the data. For example, I would like to try a bar chart race with the top donors. But until I figure out the racing bar chart, please enjoy a regular bar chart. [Edit 2: We were so busy celebrating the return of our cat I took a few days off data visualization, but I am now back at it. I am finding the bar chart race very challenging. I want to switch the “years” in the example I am looking at to “days”, but it is breaking the formula.]

UpDate: October 13, 2021

I have not abandoned this project, but I am having trouble figuring out coding the racing bar chart using days rather than years as was used in the coding example I used. I have discovered that I need to understand the coding behind the chart better. I am also not making the time to record the data I need to make the chart as my work has recently gotten busier.

This map reflects the total outbreak-associated cases in schools on September 22, 2021. This is an update of the September 22, 2021 map.

I need to restart my computer and close some of the many, many tabs I have open related to data visualization, but before I close them I want to document a few of the websites I have been using and have found useful. I am not necessarily recommending these websites, just noting that I have found them useful.

In no particular order, beyond where they are in my tabs.

Data Visualization



Amcharts Live

Data Formating

JSON formatter


Data Sources

Anne Arundel County Public Schools: COVID-19 Dashboard

Anne Arundel County ArcGIS Open Data

U.S. Department of Education: College Scorecard

Maryland Higher Education Commission Publications

University System of Maryland: IRIS

Maryland Data

Maryland Longitudinal Data System Dashboards

Maryland Report Card

Edunomics Lab: THe Study of Education Finance

The more visualizations I make the clearer it becomes that one of the major challenges of visualizing education data is that it is a very complicated system and it is difficult to simplify. For example, I made a visualization of student transfers from Maryland community colleges to Maryland public four-year institutions. This is only a portion of college transfers. It does not include transfers from public four-year institutions to other four-year institutions. It also does not include other segments of higher education institutions such as private four-year institutions or out-of-state institutions. There is not an easy way to simplify the data.

I made this data visualization using the “chord diagram with animated bullets” demo by amcharts. I just added in my data. The demo has 6 nodes, mine has 29. The good thing is that the nodes can be clicked off so that you can examine only specific nodes. For example, you could click off all but two of the community college to compare them.

Animated BUllet Chord Diagram of Student Transfers: Maryland Community Colleges to Maryland Public Four-year Institutions

Note: I just noticed when testing the post that this chart does not look great on mobile. It works better if you turn your phone to landscape mode. I am going to explore this further.

  • BSU=Bowie State University
  • CSU=Coppin State University
  • UB=University of Baltimore
  • UMBC=University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • UMCP=University of Maryland College Park
  • UMES=University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • UMGC=University of Maryland Global Campus
  • SMCM=St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • MSU=St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • MSU=Morgan State University
  • UMB=University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • BCCC=Baltimore City Community College
  • CCBC=Community College of Baltimore County
  • CSM=College of Southern Maryland
  • MC=Montgomery College
  • PGCC=Prince George’s Community College

Source: Maryland Higher Education Commission: Undergraduate transfers among Maryland institutions of higher education 2019-2020, May 2021.

chord Diagram Student Transfers: Maryland Community Colleges to Maryland Public Four-year Institutions

Note: I just noticed when testing the post that this chart does not look great on mobile. It works better if you turn your phone to landscape mode. I am going to explore this further.

I removed the bullets to reduce the visual clutter. I think I like this version a little more, although I think that I can still make improvements. To improve it I stole the best elements from the “Who kissed who in Friends” chord diagram demo. I still think that I can make further improvements, but I need to explore the coding options a bit deeper to figure out what changes I would like to make. With this version, I may be able to add in the full names of the institutions in a future version.

This drill-down sunburst chart shows the breakdown of students that transferred to the University of Maryland College Park in fiscal 2020. The first layer shows the type of sending institution: Maryland Community Colleges; other University System of Maryland institutions; Maryland private institutions, including institutions that belong to the Maryland Univerity and College Association (MICUA); and out-of-state institutions. The second layer shows the institutions. However, since the original data source only shows the top institutions in a particular category, the names of not all out-of-state institutions are captured.

This chart is based on an Amcharts demo for a drill-down sunburst chart. This particular data only had two levels, but additional levels can be added if you have hierarchical data with multiple levels. As with several other charts I have tried making with Amcharts, this chart did not work in their add-in for WordPress. I however was able to add my data using Notepad. Then I saved the document as an HTML file by changing the file extension to .HTML. Then I uploaded the file to the media library for my website. Finally, I used some HTML code on this page to creat a frame and pull up the chart. I explained that process and shared the code I used in a previous post about my experiences making charts and maps with amcharts.

The chart shows that 63.6% of transfer students came from Maryland community colleges. Half (50.3%) of those students from Maryland community colleges came from Montgomery College, which is located in Montgomery County not far from UMCP. Anne Arundel Community College, Prince George’s Community College, and Howard Community College were also the source of a large number of transfer students. The second-largest source of transfer students is out-of-state institutions. For that category none of the sending schools are dominant. The biggest category is “other”.

UMCP Transfer Students in Fiscal 2020 Drill Down Sunburst Charth

Source: University System of Maryland, IRIS

I modified one of the Amcharts demos called map with curved lines to make a Maryland map with lines. I want to show how students transfer among colleges at universities in the state using a map. I have successfully created the base map, but I have not yet figured out how to add a stroke width to the lines. I think it would be interesting to have the thickness of the line represent the number of students that transferred. I want to see if location is a factor in transferring.

I have read through the Amcharts documentation, but I still can not figure out how to change the stroke width for each individual line. I did figure out how to change the width for all of the lines at the same time, but that is not what I want to do. I noticed when I made the lines thicker the map looked really messy, so this idea might not get off the ground even if I figure out the technical details. The issue is while I am pretty good at figuring out technical issues I do not have a strong foundation in using javascript libraries. I have an 11 hour YouTube video that I am planning on watching to build a stronger foundation, but I have not yet made the time to watch it. I keep on spending my time trying out new ideas on visualizing data. I have so many data visualizations I would like to build, I need more hours in the day to build them all. I hope I will get quicker with time

Maryland Map with Lines

If I decided to go this route I just need to take the time to enter the names and longitudes and latitudes of all of the institutions. For this map I just googled the institution and “longitude and latitude”; however, I just discovered the U.S. Department of Education College ScoreCard data download has longitude and latitude information. In the future I will try using the ScoreCard longitude and latitude information.