HALTOM CITY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Birdville ISD is going a step beyond some North Texas districts by telling parents how many students and teachers have COVID-19 in their schools.
With the return of students to face-to-face instruction, it has created a dashboard to list all active cases, meaning an individual who was in school and test-confirmed to have COVID-19.
For example, as of Thursday, Sept. 14, the dashboard shows that an elementary student, one middle school student and a high school student currently have the coronavirus. It also shows that two elementary school employees are infected.
The district said those who test positive are excluded from participation in any in-person/on-campus activity until the campus nurse verifies they meet the return criteria set by state and local health authorities. Once the individual is cleared to return, they are no longer considered an active case and the case is removed from the dashboard count.
CBS 11 News anticipates that by Thursday afternoon the Texas Department of State Health Services will release for the first time the number of COVID-19 school cases. Last week, schools were required to report the number of cases to the state. But sources told CBS 11 News the state has no plans to ever share data by school, like Birdville ISD has.
Also, some districts, like the two largest school districts in North Texas, Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD, aren’t providing that information either.
“To us it would be critical for notification to go to parents 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.”
Those districts will only notify parents whose students come in close contact with someone who contracts the coronavirus. 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 said all those in close contact will need to stay home for 14 days.
According to Texas Education Agency’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.”
TEA guidelines are not legal requirements.
District officials said they must also protect the privacy of students and teachers who test positive for COVID-19.
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 like Birdville ISD’s where confirmed COVID-19 cases by campus are tracked and posted as well as exposures to the virus. “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.
Birdville ISD will update the dashboard every Monday by 4 p.m.