COVID-19 dashboard reporting same-day cases


Jayden Chui

If a Coppell ISD student tests positive for COVID-19, their parent is recommended to contact the school nurse and the communications department will add a case to the CISD COVID-19 Dashboard. If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the communications department updates the CISD COVID-19 dashboard.

Sri Achanta, Staff Writer

“We are notifying you that an individual in your class is confirmed to have COVID-19” is the beginning of an email all contact traced Coppell High School students have received in the past nine weeks.

Yet, the Coppell ISD COVID-19 dashboard states that there are zero daily test-confirmed positive COVID cases per grade for CHS. 

The keys to deciphering this seemingly incongruous information are two things: the word “daily” and the voluntary reporting system.

The CISD COVID-19 dashboard only tracks the number of test-confirmed positive cases each day. For example, if a student tests positive for COVID-19, the tracker will increase the number of cases for the student’s campus and grade by one, and also increase the Total Student Cases sections of the dashboard by one. The next day, however, the dashboard for the grade levels and staff will reset back to zero, but the totals columns will be kept as is, as they are cumulative numbers, stating exactly how many students and/or staff have contracted the virus since Aug. 17. 

The major difference between this tracking style and that of the 2020-21 school year’s is that the dashboard for the 2021-22 school year is only tracking cases reported on that day instead of all active cases. 

Though tracking active cases seems like an ideal option for a more in-depth report about the COVID-19 cases, numerous problems can arise. 

According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), federal student privacy laws keep schools from revealing too much information about any individual student. Tracking the number of active cases can lead to patient identification and is made further challenging by the fact that no new CISD staff was hired to track cases.

“[Last year] there were some challenges and miscommunication with [tracking active cases],” CISD director of communications Amanda Simpson said. “You could be active the day you reported [that you had COVID] and then not [be] active the next day because you are only active for those 10 days [after you receive your positive test]. [Tracking active cases] just got too confusing and it could further identify the patient.”

Another crucial aspect of the COVID-19 dashboard is voluntary COVID-19 reporting. According to the Texas Education Agency, parents are not required to report whether their child has tested positive for COVID, but are highly encouraged to. 

“[This process is effective] if you are honest,” CHS associate principal Melissa Arnold said. “When [people] get COVID tested [and] it comes back positive, my hope is that [they] report it, so we can have the conversations we need to have to keep everybody safe.”

When a student tests positive for COVID-19, their parents are encouraged to email the school nurse. The nurse will follow up with a phone call home, asking the parent questions such as who their child was sitting with at lunch and when the child’s symptoms started. The nurse will then send out information regarding the number of COVID cases at the school to CISD’s communications department every school day by 4 p.m. 

Cases that are reported by parents on the weekends are sent to the communication department with the coming Monday’s numbers. The communication department will then post these numbers on the COVID-19 dashboard page and report them to Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS). 

When a staff member tests positive, they are to fill out a staff Google Form. The district then reports those numbers to DCHHS and adds them to the CISD dashboard. 

“[CISD has] done well mediating, staying in the middle of [the] strong ends of not wanting to wear masks and not wanting to really worry about [COVID] anymore and [the other end with] people who are scared to send their kids to schools,” CHS physical education teacher Julie Stralow said. “Coppell has been great at finding that middle area of [continuing] to wear masks, [but] understanding there are people that might have reasons not to.”

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