A week after the Texas Department of State Health Services published and later retracted data about the number of coronavirus cases in the state’s public schools, the agency posted a new report Thursday. This time, the report features many redacted numbers and at least one uncorrected error from the initial data.
The agency removed coronavirus case data for districts with fewer than 50 students attending in person. Among San Antonio area districts, data is available only for Alamo Heights Independent School District, Boerne ISD, and Comal ISD, all of which had more than 50 students attending class on campus during the first week of instruction, according to State data.
For all other school districts, the agency redacted the number of cases, giving the public no information about how prevalent the virus is among staff and students in the area’s largest school districts. In each of the other local districts, except for Southwest ISD, the State reported that there were no students attending school in-person during the first week of school. The State reported Southwest ISD had 18 students receiving face-to-face instruction in the first week of the fall semester.
It is unclear if these initial enrollment figures led to the redactions. Since the start of the school year, thousands more students have started in-person learning. For example, in Northside ISD, a district spokesman estimated more than 18,000 students are learning in person.
After the initial report last week, the Texas Education Agency and DSHS reviewed the data, finding issues with “data entry by some schools and the process for importing the number of COVID-19 cases submitted by schools into the first district-level report,” a TEA statement said.
At least one error was not remedied in the subsequent report. Last week, East Central ISD’s enrollment was listed as 51 students during the first week of school. The actual number is closer to 9,600, a district spokesman said Thursday afternoon. In the most recent district-level report, ECISD’s enrollment is again listed at 51.
Last week, Northside ISD’s enrollment was listed at 113,750, while the district reported it was actually 102,200. In this week’s report, the enrollment figure was closer to NISD’s tally at 101,473, but still not what the district had reported.
A TEA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request on why some errors persisted and what process was taken to remedy them after the last flawed report was posted and subsequently retracted.
In Alamo Heights ISD, there have been eight total confirmed coronavirus cases among students or staff who participated in on-campus activities since the start of the fall semester. All eight reported contracting the virus off campus, according to the state data.
Boerne ISD reported 28 total cases since the start of the school year, mostly among students in grades 7-12. Thirteen of the infected individuals were believed to have contracted the coronavirus off campus, and for the remaining 15 cases of coronavirus, the source of the infection was unknown.
In Comal ISD, the district with the most students attending class on campus, there have been 58 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the school year. As in Boerne ISD, the majority of these cases are among older students. Forty-four of the 58 cases don’t have a known source of infection, according to state data.
Statewide, DSHS reported 5,725 cumulative student cases and 4,132 cumulative staff cases among the more than 1 million students in classrooms during the first week of school and roughly 800,000 staff employed by Texas public schools.
The state plans to continue posting COVID-19 information each Wednesday for the previous week. Data is reported by schools, and the reports does not include private schools.
Even though data for the other school districts in Bexar County is not available, there have been coronavirus cases confirmed in those school systems. The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel, the union for educators in San Antonio ISD, has posted COVID-19 notification letters from individual campuses to its Facebook page, noting that cases among SAISD students and staff have surfaced each day since the start of school.
Earlier this summer, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District was going to require local school systems to publish coronavirus case data on district websites, but backtracked after several districts objected.