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Covid-19

How Bad Are COVID-19 Outbreaks in Dallas’ Private Schools?

Unlike public schools, private schools are not required by the state to report their COVID numbers. But there have been plenty of football cancelations.

If you want to know how the school reopening is going in Texas’ public schools, head to this website which is tracking the data. So far, there have been 5,725 confirmed cases among students and 4,132 cases among staff. If you want to know how the pandemic is affecting Texas’ private schools, well, you’re out of luck.

When the state released its reporting requirements in August it stipulated that private and religious schools are not required to report their COVID numbers to the state because they don’t fall under the state education agency’s oversight. Sure, the governor or Texas Health and Human Services could have stepped in and forced reporting requirements across all educational facilities in the state — as other governors have. But, well, I mean, do we really need to spell it out anymore? Everything is goofy. There. That’s your reason.

So, in Texas we have added another layer of COVID-19 uncertainty to add to the mix of reporting SNAFUs and other ideological shenanigans. How are private schools faring with their return-to-school protocols? We don’t have any hard numbers, but here’s one way of gauging the situation indirectly: football cancelations.

According to the Dallas Morning News, seven private school games have been canceled this week, one has been postponed, and three other games scheduled as replacement games. Some of the coaches tell the DMN that the games are canceled because of quarantining players or players who have come into contact with COVID-19. Other coaches don’t report specific reasons for the cancelations. In all, close to a dozen area schools have had enough of a reason to cancel their games for the week.

To me, that seems significant, and it makes me wonder about the nature of the COVID-19 concern at these schools and the size of any suspected outbreaks. How are the schools handling quarantining and at-home learning? Since there aren’t any state guidelines affecting private school operations, how are different private schools taking different approaches to reopening, and how do these track with success — or even with canceled football games? And, looking for a silver lining, if Texas has created a scenario in which there are a few dozen private schools trying a few dozen different approaches to control COVID-19, perhaps the state has inadvertently created a lab for testing solutions. So, which are working?

Who knows? When you jump out of the Dallas Morning News’ sports section, there is scant coverage of private schools and COVID-19, despite this glaring gap in the public’s understanding of the private-school response. All I could find, in fact, was this paid-for advertorial promoting a handful of school’s top-line safety protocols. It’s not journalism, even if it is easy to mistake it as reporting.

And so, without a state government requiring transparency or a daily newspaper doing any real investigation, we don’t know if our area private schools are turning into super spreaders or if they are just canceling a bunch of football games.

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