COVID in Context: TEA says schools don’t have to contact trace this year. What do the numbers suggest about last year’s attempts?

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 10:15 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The Texas Education Agency’s updated guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year do not require public schools to contact trace cases of COVID-19.

Brazos County Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan says it would be difficult to do that anyway with no mask mandate.

“What the schools relied on last year was that folks were wearing masks, so that was really only those who they were around who were not wearing masks; they could contact trace,” said Sullivan. “You could imagine a situation in which a student was positive and had many contacts within a day without wearing masks. It’s really essentially impossible to do contact tracing in that setting.”

However, last school year, when masks were required, schools still had apparent difficulty determining the source of hundreds of infections--a vast majority of them, in fact.

In College Station ISD, 1,122 cases have been reported among students and staff. Of those, 1,119 are listed “source unknown,” according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In Bryan ISD, the numbers are similar. Of the 1,018 confirmed student and staff cases, just 2 had a source of infection listed, leaving 1,016 as “source unknown.”

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