Some Texas schools have reopened for in-person classes, but there is no system in place for the state to collect and report data about COVID-19 infections in public schools.
Corbett Smith, education reporter for The Dallas Morning News, told Texas Standard on Thursday that even as the fall semester gets underway, neither the Texas Education Agency nor the Texas Department of State Health Services has decided on how, or even if, to track school infections.
“They were considering the options, but no one definitively has decided to take that up at this point,” Smith said. “You’ve got a lot of questions as to whether or not people will get a full and accurate measure as to whether we’re doing [school reopenings] safely.”
Smith said it’s not a matter of if but when infections start to happen. There have not been any known outbreaks so far in Dallas-Fort Worth schools that have reopened for in-person instruction, but there have been cases linked to school functions like cheerleading and teacher in-service days.
Now, Smith said parents and others want more transparency from schools that usually don’t reveal much detail about disease outbreaks.
“They normally side with … federal privacy laws regarding health and student confidentiality,” he said.
But even if schools and their districts track cases and report them to the state, Texas is not required to produce a comprehensive report about that information.
“They have not committed to that, nor have they committed to disaggregating that data and telling people how many cases are in a given county or in a given school district,” Smith said.
Web story by Caroline Covington.