TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – New data released by Tarrant County Public Health shows that most schools in the county meet the criteria to consider hybrid learning models amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health officials released a dashboard that helps schools, students and parents understand COVID-19 metrics in their areas. The data can be seen here.
“The new dashboard, along with our existing education guidance, is designed to help our school leadership and parents understand their local COVID-19 infection rates so they can make the best decisions for their children,” said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. “Right now, the health status of many of the school zones has improved to a point where a hybrid learning model may be appropriate.”
Hybrid learning models include having some students learn from home and some inside buildings during regular school days.
However, there are some areas in Tarrant County where it’s not yet safe for students to return to buildings, according to the data. Areas in the north and southeast sides of Fort Worth and most of White Settlement are considered to be in the red zone.
One of the benchmarks to get to green, which allows for all students in buildings, is the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests and the seven-day average for that number. Areas will be marked green when the rate is below 5%.
According to county data, the average hasn’t gone below 5% since testing began in March.
“The data metrics in Tarrant County show that the COVID-19 situation has improved enough in several school zones, shown in yellow, to allow the hybrid model of learning, which couples online virtual learning with in-person learning,” Taneja said. “The areas indicated in red are still best suited for virtual learning, as they present a high risk of spread posed by COVID-19.”
Many school districts in North Texas are starting their years with virtual learning only for the first several weeks.
Health officials said the dashboard will be updated each Monday.
Taneja noted that the dashboard is a guideline for schools, not an order.
“School boards have the ultimate authority on that decision making. When are they going to open? What style of opening are they going to do?” Taneja told CBS 11 News.”… we are giving them advice. It’s their decision on if they want to follow it.”