Despite more students returning for face-to-face instruction, the number of new coronavirus cases at Texas public schools dropped slightly last week, according to state data released Thursday.
Thursday’s release was also the first that included district-level breakouts in the reports from the Texas Education Agency and Texas Department of State Health Services. While tallies of cases were low — only one district in the state reported more than 30 new cases — North Texas districts reported some of the highest totals in the state.
From Sept. 14 to 20, Texas schools reported 1,872 new cases among staff and students, 33 fewer than the previous seven-day total — which was the state’s first effort to gather and publish coronavirus data for schools.
The decline was driven by a drop in cases among school employees, from 859 to 660. However, the number of students affected by COVID-19 rose by 166.
Among individual school systems, six of the 10 highest case counts came from North Texas.
Lewisville reported a state-high 31 new student cases, 23 of them from high schools, bringing its student total to 62 cases to date. Mineral Wells ISD reported the highest percentage of new cases among students in the area; 10 of its 3,079 students received positive test results during the time period, a case rate of 0.65% of the district’s enrollment.
Fort Worth ISD reported a state-high 18 new staff cases.
Overall, the statewide totals represent around 0.2% of the estimated 1.9 million staff members and students currently on Texas campuses.
Those numbers could rise in the coming weeks, as hundreds of thousands of students are poised to return to in-person instruction in several of the state’s largest cities, including Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth.
Dallas ISD will begin phasing in grade levels at its campuses on Monday, as it slowly builds up to its campuses being fully open Oct. 5 for those who have chosen in-person instruction.
At least 53,000 DISD students are expected back in schools when face-to-face instruction resumes. But that number is likely to rise, with nearly a third of families yet to respond to a districtwide survey on whether their children will attend school in person or online.