State creates database to track COVID-19 cases at Texas public schools

Beginning September 8th, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Department of State Health Services will require school districts to report COVID-19 cases on a weekly basis through an online form.

Zeph Capo, President of the Houston Federation Teachers, believes this step in the right direction.

"There was a concern that they may not do this at all earlier on and I'm glad that they've come to the decision to actually try to track this data," Capo told FOX 26.
However, he says it's not clear how the State will use the information. In an instruction sheet for the school districts, the TEA only says the information will be used to "monitor, track, and coordinate public health responses to COVID-19."

Capo also has other concerns including how the database is sourced.

"They're dependent on the school districts to input that data," he said. He believes teachers, parents, and other individuals should also be a part of the State's data gathering.

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The online form asks for all new COVID-19 cases in the previous week, whether each case involved a student, staff member, or other, and if the case was contracted on or off-campus.

Capo believes the form should further specify what type of staff member such as a teacher, cafeteria worker, or bus driver.

"My concern is that it is not going to have enough information, and that is why [the American Federation of Teachers is] going to launching our own tracker on September 8th," he added. The tracker will be crowdsourced.

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FOX 26 reached out to the TEA with questions including how they would enforce the reporting requirement. We were told they are holding off on interviews until after September 8.

Capo hopes the TEA will also require schools to submit their safety or reopening plans and use them to analyze the number of cases.

"I hope they will use it objectively to really evaluate the safety plans, the reopening plans of each of the individual school districts and hopefully use that data to predict an outbreak before it happens," he concluded.

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