DALLAS - The American Federation of Teachers is providing a new tool to find and report COVID-19 cases by school district.
Texas AFT’s COVID-19 dashboard went live Thursday where teachers, staff and parents can look up data and report COVID-19 cases and safety concerns.
AFT is raising questions about transparency and how much information on COVID-19 cases in schools will actually be released. They say their dashboard will give teachers and staff a chance to independently report COVID cases, deaths and other safety concerns.
The TEA requires districts to report positive COVID cases weekly and notify employees and families at the affected campuses. That data is supposed to be made public starting this month but hasn’t gone live yet.
AFT reps question how much information will be reported.
“If they’re only reporting at district level, for districts like Houston and Dallas and San Antonio, those are very large districts that cover a high level of geography. What good does that do?” said Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT.
Some districts like Richardson, Wylie and Mansfield ISDs are reporting COVID-19 cases by campus, and Tarrant County is also tracking this.
AFT also wants to receive direct reports from teachers, staff and parents about cases and safety concerns along supporting documents like school notification letters so AFT can investigate.
“We have to be the ones that make sure people are safe,” said Alliance AFT President Randi Weingarten. “We have to be the ones that push back on this unconscionable pitting of learning vs. life.”
Parents who have been fighting for their kids to return to face to face learning say enough safety precautions are in place and teachers need to be in school.
Julia Anderson’s son attends a Plano high school. She says she was notified the day before in-person classes started that one of his teachers would not be on campus for medical reasons and the class would be taught via Zoom in the library.
“And then just the quality of education and the face to face when teachers not present in class, kids are supposed to go to the library, sit in the library and do Zoom meetings with the teachers who are remotely working from home,” she said. “What kind of face to face education is that to be in the library?”
AFT says their goal is to give teachers a voice.
“To have more of a direct ability to control their health and safety and speak out about it and to make sure the information is transparent,” Capo said.
Though districts are required to report COVID-19 cases to the state and notify affected families and employees, not all districts are posting that data publicly.