Former Pflugerville teachers launch their own COVID-19 dashboard for schools, claiming it’s more accurate than district’s

Investigations

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Two former Pflugerville teachers have launched their own unofficial COVID-19 dashboard for the Pflugerville Independent School District in an effort to bring more transparency and urgency to coronavirus cases in schools.

Kimberly Carroll and Dan Dawer, who said they both resigned from Pflugerville ISD before the school year started due to concerns about teaching in person during the pandemic, aim to bring parents and teachers more real-time data.

“We’ve already had reports of positive cases this week on campuses that are on our unofficial dashboard that are not yet on the district’s dashboard,” said Dawer. “And probably won’t be until the end of the week at the earliest.”

The former teachers have been sent two different official district letters from Weiss High School reporting two separate positive cases—one on Sept. 30 and another on Oct 4. The district dashboard only shows one positive case on that campus. Carroll said they are in the process of adding the second case to their dashboard.

Chief Communications Officer Tamra Spence confirmed to KXAN the district did learn over the weekend that a member of the Weiss football coaching staff tested positive. No students were impacted, but Spence said several members of the coaching staff are in quarantine. The case has not yet made it on the district’s dashboard, although a letter has gone out to the campus community.

She also said the district has decided to postpone the next two Friday night football games as a result.

In addition, there is a new, positive case at Dessau Middle School that has not been added to the district’s dashboard, according to Spence.

The reason for the differences in the two dashboards is the fact the school district updates its dashboard once a week, which happens every Friday. Dawer said he updates his dashboard as soon as he and Carroll confirm a case on a campus through letters from the district that current staff share with them. They have a mutual understanding with employees that they will remain anonymous because many are fearful of backlash, or losing their jobs.

Carroll and Dawer said employees having been reaching out through calls, texts and Facebook through a group page Carroll set up over the summer called ‘PfISD Stay Virtual, Stay Safe.’

“So far everything we’ve reported has been confirmed by the district’s data at the end of the week,” said Dawer. “We haven’t been wrong yet.”

KXAN asked Spence why the district is not updating its dashboard in real-time. She said they’re among many other local districts only updating the data for the public once a week, and believes the district is doing a good job in communicating quickly to parents and staff with letters as soon positive cases are confirmed.

“If you’re on a campus you know that you have a positive case,” said Spence. “You don’t even have to go to the dashboard — we don’t want them to have to go to a dashboard to get information — we want to send it directly to you.”

Monday, Pflugerville ISD rolled out changes to the data it provides to the public on its dashboard after concerns were raised about transparency. The district now includes cumulative numbers over time, and distinguishes cases among staff verses students.

“We’ve really gone above and beyond what the state has required us to do and are really happy to do so,” said Spence.

Meanwhile, Carroll and Dawer will continue updating their dashboard as they continue advocating for more timely information.

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