DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Unless their child came in close contact, many Texas parents will not be notified of positive COVID-19 cases at school.
The two largest school districts in North Texas, Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD, do not plan on following all of the notification guidelines set out by the Texas Education Agency when in-person classes resume.READ MORE: 2-Year-Old Wanders Into Backyard, Drowns In Pool
According to TEA’s guidelines, “…schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a test-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff.”
Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD only plan to notify families of students who came in close contact.
Close contact is defined by the schools as anyone who came within six feet of the infected person for more than 15 minutes.
The school district says all those in close contact will need to stay home for 14 days.
“To us it would be critical for notification to go to parent that need to take an action versus just a notification,” said Dallas ISD assistant superintendent Leslie Stephens. “If there is no cause to worry, then why create some form of panic.”
TEA guidelines are not legal requirements.
District officials say they must also protect the privacy of students and teachers who test positive for COVID-19.
Carmen Cerrillo, whose daughter a fifth-grader in Dallas ISD, said she thinks the school needs to notify all parents on a campus.READ MORE: Texas Lawmakers Debating Redistricting As Third Special Session Begins At State Capitol
“I would want to know immediately,” she said. “I want the information so I can decide whether I want my daughter (at school) or not. I don’t want someone at the district to decide for me that it’s not a big enough deal.”
With the exception of Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs, most other large school districts in North Texas are following state guidelines and notifying parents of every student on campus every time there is a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Wylie ISD superintendent David Vinson said he would rather over communicate than have parents wondering.
His district created an online public dashboard where confirmed COVID-19 cases by campus are tracked and posted as well as COVID-19 exposures.
These are teachers and students who have not tested positive but have been identified through contact tracing as having interaction with a positive case.
“I’m not trying to freighting anyone. I’m just trying to inform people,” said Vinson. “We just felt like it builds their confidence that they know what’s going on.”
Starting this month, school districts are required to report all positive COVID-19 cases to the TEA.
The Texas Department of State Health Services will post school districts’ totals reported COVID-19 cases online for the first time later this week.MORE NEWS: A Closer Look At 4 Drugs Used To Treat COVID-19; What Really Works?
All districts are also required to notify the county health department of all confirmed cases.