SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Some districts are releasing different information about their positive cases, citing privacy concerns.

Western Mass News spoke with an attorney about whether or not there is a standard privacy law that schools need to follow when it comes to disclosing information about COVID-19 cases.

In the last few days, officials with several local schools announced there were active COVID-19 cases in their districts. Some schools were willing to disclose to the community the building a positive case was present.

Another school wouldn't confirm which building but did say if it was a student or a staff member. Attorney Jared Olanoff told Western Mass News these districts are allowed to share or not share whatever information they choose.

“It depends on, sort of, that school administration their willingness to give that information to the public," Olanoff explained.

Olanoff said privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) apply to healthcare providers and their employees, not school districts who aren't giving out health services.

"These teachers or students, whoever is reporting the positive COVID-19 test to the school system, the tests are being done independent of the school," he added.

He told Western Mass News lawsuits surrounding COVID-19 and privacy have not yet made a splash in the legal world and that districts are likely trying to play it safe.

"It’s a brand new area that we’re all in here, and the legal repercussions of that remain to be seen," he said. "So, and again, schools should err on the side of caution and give out enough information to their community to keep them safe."

Just as a reminder, within the last few days, Southwick, Hampden-Wilbraham, and Chicopee have all confirmed active cases of COVID-19 within their districts.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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