Many school districts across Texas have been providing in-person learning for some weeks now, but here in the state’s capital, students only began going back to campus this past week. The city is watching warily to see how this impacts the local COVID-19 numbers.
A useful (albeit somewhat limited) tool is available through the Texas Health and Human Services website. A weekly data report containing each Texas school district’s COVID-19 reporting is updated every Thursday by 5 pm CDT. It is a friendly enough spreadsheet, and you can bop around with the help of control-F to find the districts’ whose COVID-19 cases for the past week is of particular interest to you. The numbers provided are clear and simple, though the lack of real explanation for the more than 14,000 asterisks littered throughout the document is concerning. (If you know what “cell has been suppressed” means in Excel-speak, please email and let me know.) Regardless, it might be helpful if you want to be informed of your district’s current numbers but have vowed to avoid doomscrolling or watching the local news in an effort to improve your mental health.
Most educators are personally invested in and impacted by education in a way that supersedes their career. Many are also married to a fellow educator, have parents who are still in the classroom, and have children who are either knee-deep in their own education or are now on the other side of the teacher desk, looking out at young faces in masks or in little black Zoom boxes. Education tends to run in families. Which is why the reopening of schools affects these families in so many ways. They are front-line workers, too, and their risk of exposure has grown exponentially as multiple members of a given family circle return to their campuses.
Rumors are flying in Austin about which teachers were out sick this week and why. A weekly spreadsheet probably can’t quash such rumors, but it may offer a sliver of peace of mind if you’re trying to figure out where your district stands in COVID reporting as your family goes back to school.
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