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Health officials monitor school districts for COVID-19

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Education Agency, districts are required to notify the state health department any time there is a positive case on school campuses.
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 8:57 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - As more students start gradually returning to in-person instruction within the next four weeks, local and state officials are keeping a close eye.

As students return to the classroom, communication will be vital between the state, school districts, and the local Health Department.

“With the school districts, we’re in constant communication with both school districts and of course our smaller districts, and our private schools as well," said Richard Chamberlain. "Information is exchanged daily in regards with any new COVID reports or COVID suspected cases.”

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Education Agency, districts are required to notify the state health department any time there is a positive case on school campuses.

That information helps the Laredo Health Department identify outbreaks or potential outbreaks at schools.

“This information that we get is very crucial and it’s very crucial that it’s done in a timely manner because the virus spreads very rapidly," said Doctor Victor Trevino.

“When there is a positive case or a suspect case in a school district, the Laredo Health Department also conducts its contact tracing for those ‘close contact exposure’ to notify them,” Chamberlain said.

The health department will inform those considered a “close contact exposure” and can only suggest how the district could mitigate the possible spread.

Chamberlain says the school districts determine if and how those not considered a " close contact exposure" are informed.

In a statement United ISD said:

“In the event of a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result, parents/legal guardians of students and employees who attend, teach, or work on campus are the first to be notified. Additionally, everyone who has been in close contact with the individual of interest will also be notified once confirmation of a positive case is received.”

Laredo ISD told us in part:

"Consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, LISD schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a test confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate on any on campus activities.

Besides the daily updates, the Laredo Health Department says that schools must file weekly reports on new COVID-19 cases among students, teachers or staff.

We understand there will be positive cases but it’s about how it will be handled. If they are handled in an adequate way doing the infection control protocol, that’s a way to contain the infection."

The Texas Department of State Health Services says Texas Education Agency COVID-19 data will be updated every Wednesday.

Breakdowns by school districts should be reported next week.

Copyright 2020 KGNS. All rights reserved.

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