School districts launch COVID-19 dashboards to track cases, increase transparency

Hays

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — More school districts are trying to be transparent when it comes to reporting COVID-19 cases.

San Marcos CISD just launched a new online dashboard.

Spokesperson Andrew Fernandez says the goal is to increase transparency.

He says the school district told families in July that they’d have a notification center on their website.

Hays CISD launched their online dashboard on Monday, one week after starting the 2020-2021 school year online.

The data shows a total of six confirmed COVID-19 cases in that first week of school; four staff and two students.

“That’ll definitely help when it comes to deciding whether to send my children back or to keep them home,” says Valerie Gomez, a parent of two SMCISD students.

Gomez has elected to have her kids conduct virtual learning for the first semester but says she’s noticed that her kindergartner needs to go back to school.

Valerie Gomez has a kindergartner and second grader at SMCISD. (Photo courtesy of Valerie Gomez)

“To get him to kind of sit down and follow videos or to join certain zoom calls, it becomes a struggle. We sometimes have meltdowns a lot more than I’d like to admit, we do,” she tells KXAN while her kids take a recess on Tuesday.

“It gives them a break from being inside and it kind of helps them calm down to get ready for their second half of the day,” she explains.

Gomez says the dashboard will help her keep track of COVID-19 cases as she decides when the right time will be for her son to go back to campus.

“I think as a parent that brings a lot more ease than kind of just watching different news stations and kind of trying to keep up on our own, on what the numbers are,” she says.

Wimberley ISD launched their dashboard about two weeks ago when some students started returning to campus, says spokesperson Allen Bruggman.

“We did hear community interest in learning more and the exact number of cases, the locations,” Bruggman says. “We thought, ‘We’re not hiding anything, there’s no reason to not communicate this to our public… So, that’s why we launched the little chart there on the front of the website to make sure everyone knows the same information that we do.”

He says the district nurse then begins contact tracing with the campus nurse and communicate with the Hays County epidemiologist.

“When they contact me I update the website from there,” Bruggman says.

Bruggman says the reporting is as accurate and current as possible and asks that parents contact the school district if they feel their child needs to be tested, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Over-communication is probably better in this situation. There could possibly be a case that we don’t know about if the parent sees symptoms and keeps their child home and doesn’t reach out to us,” he says.

Dripping Springs ISD also has a dashboard, but only showing active cases.

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