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Some parents say they’re frustrated by discrepancies between state and district reporting of COVID case numbers

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Discrepancies sometimes exist between the current COVID-19 case numbers reported by the state health department and education agency, and those reported by local school districts.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) says the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is responsible for putting the state’s data together and pushing it out when school districts report their weekly numbers each Monday for the prior week. That data isn’t published until Friday, however, so there is essentially a week-long lag in the state’s numbers.

The TEA says the state tracker is designed to illustrate trend data for the purpose of policy making. Parents looking for the most up-to-date notifications on COVID-19 case numbers in their school or district should access their district’s dashboard, the agency says.

KBTX asked parents how important it is for them to have access to reliable and accurate COVID-19 data for their child’s district.

“It’s actually extremely important for us,” Raquel Finch, who is the mother of a Bryan ISD third grader, said. “Personally, my son does have asthma. I want to know and have accurate numbers, so I can choose to keep my son home from school.”

“I’m just trying to keep him healthy and safe,” Roberto Ochoa, who is also the parent of a third grader who goes to school in Bryan ISD, said. “You don’t want anything bad to happen.”

When districts submit all or part of their numbers after the Monday deadline, the TEA says those cases are added to the cumulative district total and the cumulative statewide total. They are not added into the weekly report where they originally went unreported, however.

The TEA says another reason behind conflicting numbers could be the fact that some districts present their data differently than the way the state does. Certain districts might use different parameters to illustrate their COVID-19 data, whereas the state only reports positive case counts.

“It’s disappointing that it’s conflicting data,” Finch said. “It’s disappointing that the people that are supposed to be helping us to make informed decisions, or have the ability to make informed decisions for our families, are almost in a sense stripping us of that opportunity.”

“It’s pretty frustrating. It’s kind of hard to tell when there’s so many different sources,” Ochoa said. “But the main important thing is that he’s safe when he’s going to school, and he’s not at any immediate health risks.”

Both Bryan and College Station ISDs say their COVID-19 numbers are correctly reported on their own school district dashboards online, and they report their case numbers from each week to the state health department by the Monday deadline.

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