Public health officials watching COVID numbers as in-person learning numbers rise

Safely Back to School
Posted at 6:33 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 19:33:59-04

As the number of COVID cases rise across some parts of Texas, public health officials in Bell County say the numbers there aren't as bad as they projected.

Bell County Public Health Director Dr. Amanda Robinson-Chadwell says there are a lot of factors that go into the fluctuation in COVID numbers, like restrictions lifting in restaurants and retail stores.

Students returning to in person learning is also a factor.

"It hasn't been really dramatic, it's enough to make me point it out because certainly it does not take much for it to become a dramatic increase. It hasn’t been that bad. I’ve been very nervous about October so, so far it’s looking manageable," said Dr. Chadwell.

Between students, staff and faculty that live and attend schools in Bell County, Dr. Robinson-Chadwell says there are currently 23 active cases of COVID-19.

With restrictions lifting and learning styles fluctuating, Dr.Chadwell says they are airing on the side of caution.

"Now one of the things were telling all the school districts is if they think it’s COVID whether we confirm it or not treat it like it’s COVID isolate them as if it’s COVID," she said.

"It’s kind of the old saying of building a plane while you’re flying. The majority of ours, I think like everybody else, just wasn’t sure what this was going to look like," said Joe Craig.

The expectations for at home learning are not ideal for working parents, says Rogers ISD Superintendent Joe Craig.

This lead him to have 91% of his students back to in person learning as of this week. Rogers ISD isn't the only district to see an increase with in person learning.

Dr. Lisa Adams, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction with Temple ISD says,"We’ve actually trending toward students wanting to come back to school."

"You can see just in that 3 to 4 weeks. We’ve already gained almost 4000 students back in the classroom," said Killeen ISD Chief Communications/Marketing Officer Taina Maya.

Though they differ in size, Temple and Killeen ISD are continuing to navigate through virtual and in-person learning.

Temple ISD is giving parents from now until October 12th to make a decision, which they monitor on a case by case basis.

"We want to make sure we have out staffing appropriate so that way we have the right teachers in the right spots to meet those needs and so we ask our families to commit to that," said Dr. Adams.

KISD has a more fluid process called a learning change request form. With 4,000 additional students returning to in-person learning within the first few weeks of school, engagement in any form of learning is a priority.

"The district is doing a fantastic job of engaging our students are teachers in our parents whether they are virtual learners or in-person learners. We’ve had 92% attendance rate throughout the district last week and that’s really a strong number for us," Maya said.

While Rogers ISD has had one staff member test positive for COVID , Temple ISD has 7 cases, and Killeen ISD has 77 since the start of the school year.

Dr. Robinson-Chadwell says she's constantly working with schools to ensure the numbers don't spike.

"We all understand that we’re not going to prevent COVID from getting into the schools entirely, but we’re all working together to do our best to keep it under control and I think we’ve succeeded in doing that up until this point and I hope it continues," said Chadwell.