Texas AFT launches website tracking COVID-19 cases, unsafe conditions in Texas schools

Stopthespreadtx.school allows the public to monitor all campuses
while the state plans to publish district-only data.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 10, 2020   CONTACT:  

Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343
rdamico@texasaft.org

Recording of News Conference

The Texas American Federation of Teachers today launched an online tool for teachers and others to track COVID-19 cases and report unsafe working conditions on their campuses. Texas AFT initiated the project after hearing that state officials would be reporting only district-wide data and not data from individual public school campuses.

“This tool is giving a voice to our teachers, school employees, and the community to help keep them safe and monitor what’s really happening in their neighborhood schools,” said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president. “You can’t stop the spread of COVID-19 if you don’t have the information you need on outbreaks, or on dangerous workplace situations that can lead to an outbreak.”

When users visit StopTheSpreadTX.school they can search for reports of COVID-19 cases on specific campuses and in other district facilities, and they can report cases. Also reportable is information on unsafe working conditions and the ability of school employees to tell their own stories on the challenges of educating in the pandemic. Results from reports are pinned on a Texas map, which users also can click to view more information.

“While the state this week is requiring school districts to start submitting reports on COVID-19 cases, it’s unclear when that information will be available to the public, and since the plan is to publish only district-wide data, it won’t equip the public with the information it needs stop the spread of the virus,” Capo said.

“Texas AFT is doing what a union’s role should be: protecting people’s lives and protecting our health and safety,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “And we’re doing it, in part, by providing the transparency that the government should be doing, but isn’t. What we need is for everyone to take responsibility. When you see something, you need to say something.”  

Cases reported on the website are linked to “evidence”—usually emails or web postings from principals and superintendents, or news reports on those communications—which users also can view. Texas AFT staff confirm that the evidence is sufficient as reports come in.

“While case numbers—and sadly deaths—will be crucial to monitor, just as important will be hearing of unsafe working conditions so that we as a union can step in when needed to help ensure our students and school employees are safe,” Capo said.

Texas American Federation of Teachers represents more than 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.6-million-member American Federation of Teachers.
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