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Report: COVID-19 cases more common in upper grades; Marlin Middle School online-only until Oct. 5

Report: COVID-19 cases more common in upper grades; Marlin Middle School online-only until Oct. 5

WISD first day 2020-2021 (copy)

G.W. Carver Middle School English teacher Paige Stanford works simultaneously with students in-person and via Zoom on the first day of Waco ISD’s school year Sept. 8. About half of the students at Carver and districtwide chose to start with remote instruction.

Most reported COVID-19 cases among McLennan County public school students who returned to the classroom this school year have been in older students, particularly in the Midway and China Spring school districts, according to new state data released this week.

A day after publishing the district-level data, the Department of State Health Services removed it from its website, citing unspecified data issues. The data consisted of self-reported, test-confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff members since July 27, when some Texas school districts held the first day of school.

A spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency said the issues stemmed from inaccurate enrollment numbers but that the case numbers were correct as of Sunday. Another issue arose because districts reported 275 student cases and 203 staff cases after the reporting deadline for the period. It is unclear whether any of the cases reported late came from districts in the county. The TEA and Department of State Health Services, which are working together to publish the data, expect to have the district-level information fixed and posted by Monday.

Statewide cumulative totals remain available on the website, with the cases that were reported late included.

Public school districts must report to the state any students and staff members who test positive for COVID-19 and have been on campus. The first report covers the period from July 27 to Sept. 20, and the numbers are to be updated each Wednesday.

Midway Independent School District had the highest case counts in the first round of numbers, with 23 students testing positive. Sixteen of those 23 students are in grades seven through 12. The district of about 8,200 students held its first day of school Aug. 24.

China Spring ISD had the second-highest case count, with 14 students and one staff member testing positive for COVID-19. Most of those students, or 10, are in grades seven through 12. The school district of almost 3,000 students started in-person classes Aug. 19.

But Waco ISD, which had its first day Sept. 8, reported relatively few positive cases, considering almost 15,000 students are enrolled. The district reported six students and six staff members testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Department of State Health Services case data, downloaded before it was removed.

Both Waco and Midway ISDs have their own COVID-19 reporting dashboards. Midway’s reports only active cases among students and staff, while Waco’s reports cumulatively and weekly among students, staff and visitors.

Waco ISD reported a total of 24 cases as of Friday, with 11 among students, 10 among staff and three in the “other” category, according to the dashboard. Those cases involved the following campuses: Alta Vista Elementary, Bell’s Hill Elementary, Kendrick Elementary, Lake Air Montessori, Provident Heights Elementary, Cesar Chavez Middle, Indian Spring Middle, University High and Waco High.

Midway reported Friday that two staff members at Spring Valley Elementary tested positive for COVID-19, as did two seventh graders at Midway Middle School, two high school students and a high school staff member.

Meanwhile, Marlin High School students will return to their classrooms Monday after Marlin ISD closed its middle and high school classrooms Wednesday in response to several students and staff members testing positive for the coronavirus, Superintendent Darryl Henson said.

Marlin Middle School will remain with remote-only instruction until Oct. 5. Eleven students and six faculty members at the middle and high school have tested positive.

Henson said the district’s plan does not call for pivoting to remote instruction and closing all classrooms unless 5% of the district’s population tests positive, but the 17 people who tested positive were reported around the same time, with the virus seeming to spread outside of school among family members. Marlin ISD has almost 900 students.

COVID-19 cases in McLennan County school districts

Cumulative COVID-19 reports from July 27-Sept. 20 // Source: Department of State Health Services

District Name PreK-3
BOSQUEVILLE ISD 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1
BRUCEVILLE-EDDY ISD 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
CHINA SPRING ISD 2 2 10 14 1 0 16 0
GHOLSON ISD 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1
HARMONY SCIENCE 0 3 1 4 1 0 9 0
LA VEGA ISD 1 2 2 5 3 0 5 3
LORENA ISD 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 2
MARLIN ISD 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 2
MART ISD 1 0 3 4 0 1 3 0
MIDWAY ISD 3 4 16 23 0 0 16 7
MOODY ISD 1 0 1 2 3 1 0 4
ROBINSON ISD 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 3
WACO ISD 2 1 3 6 6 0 0 12
WEST ISD 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0

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