TEA Releases First Set of District-Level COVID-19 Case Reports

The good news is: Dallas ISD now has a dashboard of its own that will tell the public how many coronavirus cases it’s reported, just like schools in surrounding districts, including Highland Park ISD and Richardson ISD.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa told school board trustees Thursday evening that they would get first glance at the dashboard, and after that, the public would get access. But before the meeting was over, the district had shared the dashboard.

The district reported that there have been 39 cases so far – eight campus staff, one central staff, and 30 students.

Hillcrest High School had one case, according to the dashboard. The zip code of 75229 had two cases, and District 2 (which is partially comprised of Preston Hollow) had four cases, Districts 8 and 1 (which make up the rest of our readership) had four each.

The district will begin welcoming more students – some special education students have already reported – on Sept. 28, with the majority of students reporting on the week of Oct. 5. Elementary (with the exception of Lakewood) schools and middle schools will open for five-day schedules, while high schools and the aforementioned Lakewood will have hybrid schedules to ensure there is enough space for social distancing.

In the meantime, the dashboard crafted by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Department of State Health Services revealed its first batch of reporting. 

For the week ending Sept. 20, the state reported that 3,445 students tested positive for COVID-19, and 2,850 staff members. 

According to the spreadsheet provided by the TEA, Dallas ISD cases have been limited to staff – with 13 cases reported that week – one campus source infection, six off-campus, and seven unknown. 

The same spreadsheet shows one new case in the third grade and younger cohort, one student in the fourth through sixth grade level, and 24 in the seventh grade through 12th grade level. Cumulatively, 33 seventh through 12th grade students have tested positive since the district opened in August, with one staff case. Thirty-five cases were attributed to off-campus sources.

Dallas County health officials reported that private schools reported 12 cases in the week ending Sept. 5, and 19 cases in the week ending Sept. 12. Charter schools in the county reported five and nine cases on those respective weeks.

Case counts will be updated on the dashboard each Wednesday. Private schools are not included in the counts or reports. Out of privacy concerns, districts with fewer than 50 students will not be included in the district-level reports, but their counts will be added to the statewide tally.

In an August letter to administrators, the TEA outlined two requirements that will provide the basis for state reports with the aim, the agency said, of giving state and local officials, as well as parents, the ability “to make future decisions on how to keep school populations healthy while supporting students’ educational needs.”

The letter detailed an online case report form that districts began submitting weekly beginning Sept. 8. Districts are required to report confirmed cases within 24 hours.

See the full report here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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