Of the more than 1.1 million public school students estimated to have returned to some form of on-campus school activity in Texas, just under 4,000 have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s far less than many teachers and administrators feared. But are those numbers accurate?
Zeph Capo is president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers and the Houston Federation of Teachers. He told Texas Standard he is relieved that there has, so far, not been a major outbreak of the virus in schools. But he’s also concerned about those who have contracted it in school settings. He said it’s too early to draw conclusions about the spread of COVID-19 in the school system.
“There is nothing that would make me happier than to be wrong about the deep concerns we’ve had for breakouts,” Capo said.
The American Federation of Teachers has developed a crowdsourced database of COVID-19 cases. Capo said teachers, school staff, parents and students can add information about positive COVID cases. Participants can also report concerns about their school’s safety and cleaning protocols.
Capo said his group is concerned that existing COVID reporting could be incomplete, or not consistent throughout the state. He said having data at a neighborhood or community level is important for the safely of staff and students.
“Some schools [and school districts] may not necessarily be publicly reporting,” he said.
Capo hopes the data his group collects will inform school districts about how and whether it’s safe to reopen their campuses to students.