(Pexels)

The Texas AFT union launched a campus-level COVID-19 tracking tool on Thursday as public schools work through their reopening plans.

The Texas American Federation of Teachers launched an online tracking tool on Thursday that allows teachers and others to report COVID-19 cases and unsafe working conditions on public school campuses.


The union—which represents more than 65,000 teachers, support personnel and other employees—developed the tool after learning that state officials planned to report only district-wide data.

"We're really unsure how the state is going to deliver their data," Texas AFT President Zeph Capo said during a virtual press conference on Thursday.

The Texas Education Agency and the Department of State Health Services issued a joint statement on Aug. 20, in which the agencies said they were finalizing a COVID-19 data tracking system for public schools based on district reports. They did not provide additional information.

The Texas AFT tracking tool aims to give teachers, parents and others a chance to report and search for campus-level COVID reporting.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the tracker is "first in class" work that arrives at a critical time. "We have to be the ones that make sure there is transparency," she said.

The tracker, which can be found at www.stopthespreadtx.school, allows users to share information about reported COVID cases, unsafe working conditions and personal accounts. It is not currently reporting any COVID cases in the Austin area.

The Texas AFT union created a tracking tool through which teachers, parents and others can report school-level COVID information.(Texas Public Schools COVID-19 Tracker)

Submissions are anonymous, but the tracker will link any reported cases to "evidence," such as a news story or an email from the school principal, that confirms the information. Users are encouraged to share these documents when making their submissions.

The union expects reports to be published on the tracking tool within around three hours of submission and will be able to unpublish or not publish reports about which its staff has concerns.

Education Austin, a union that represents Austin ISD teachers and staff, has advocated for virtual learning through at least November. The district began its school year on Tuesday, but students won't begin the transition back to in-person learning until Oct. 6, according to the current plan.

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