While some surrounding school districts have plans to publish their COVID-19 infection data publicly online, the Killeen Independent School District has opted to keep its COVID-19 tracker private this school year, even as COVID cases surge in Bell County.
Dallas ISD, Austin ISD, Waco ISD, Round Rock ISD and Midway ISD have their respective COVID-19 trackers up and running for parents, employees, and the public to follow online. Belton ISD’s online COVID-19 dashboard will be live again on Aug. 18, BISD spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said Friday. Copperas Cove ISD’s dashboard has not been updated since June 1, the same date when Killeen ISD removed its online coronavirus dashboard, after 10 months of regular use.
“We are not planning on publishing the dashboard because we don’t have, we won’t have the abilities to publish in real time,” Superintendent John Craft said during Tuesday’s school board meeting. “That was the biggest issue with the dashboard that we had last year, were just our inabilities to publish in real time.”
In May, when Killeen ISD originally announced the dashboard’s demise, Craft explained to the board, “With the removal of face masks, it’s going to be really difficult to have fidelity as it pertains to the dashboard.”
When the dashboard was first launched on Aug. 26 last year, the district heralded the achievement in a news release saying the online feature would “ensure timely communication with Killeen ISD students, parents and staff members.”
“The KISD COVID-19 Dashboard will serve as a tool to keep the public informed and also aid district leaders in making decisions to best safeguard the health of students and staff members,” the district said in the Aug. 26, 2021, news release.
The online coronavirus dashboard kept track of weekly positive cases of coronavirus, among students and employees, at each KISD school as well as the total number of positive cases to date since March 2020.
Just prior to the dashboard’s online removal, Killeen ISD reported 1,800 positive cases of COVID-19 for the 14 months between March 2020 and May 2021. At least one Killeen ISD educator died from COVID-19 last year.
In the absence of the online tracker, less information will be readily available to the public about which schools are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks as the area battles its fourth COVID-19 surge.
After seven business days, Killeen ISD responded to two Herald COVID-19 questions about the number of active COVID-19 cases within KISD over the previous week and month. The data, received from KISD on Friday, shows seven people reported positive COVID-19 cases to KISD between July 28 and Aug. 3, and 14 total cases were reported between July 3 and Aug. 3.
When asked about a reported COVID-19 employee death at an area school, KISD spokeswoman Taina Maya directed the Herald Friday to the Bell County Health Department.
Nikki Morrow, interim director of the Bell County Health Department, told the Herald on Friday, “We are not able to confirm any death counts or add to the dashboard until we receive the death certificate through the state which officially confirms a Covid 19 death. Often times it takes 2 to 3 weeks after the death has occurred.”
The Killeen ISD superintendent said Tuesday the district will still track cases of coronavirus, and notify staff and students, but no longer publish them online through the COVID-19 dashboard.