As school districts navigate through the second full school year in a pandemic, Mission CISD is trying to remain as vigilant as possible while still following state and CDC guidelines. And though the district has a daily report of active COVID cases on a public online database, that information might not always be accurate.
At the Sept. 7 board of trustees workshop, Superintendent Dr. Carol Perez explained Mission CISD’s reporting system. Each day a district nurse emails the administrative COVID response team with a case count and distinguishes if the positives are from students or staff. The nurse also updates MCISD’s summary of active cases dashboard at covidash.mcisd.net. But the district employee only updates the website when parents or staff provide proof of a positive COVID test. So while the dashboard might say there are only 19 active cases in the district, the actual number of positive cases is likely in the 40s, Perez said. When the administrative nurse receives the proper documentation, they will retroactively adjust the database. They then send those numbers to the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services department.
The superintendent said there was a spike in cases in the second week of school. Those numbers have since gone down, but administration continues monitoring the situation. According to the online COVID summary, there were 37 cases on Aug. 24. Two weeks later, there were 25 cases. And as of Sept. 14, the dashboard shows three positives. But, again, due to a lack of paperwork, that number could increase in the coming days.
Perez said the district has taken precautions to avoid a widespread COVID breakout, such as switching to virtual meetings, limiting capacity and sanitizing regularly. Although there is no mask mandate at Mission CISD, the superintendent said some students and staff still opt to wear them — an approach that follows Center for Disease Control guidelines.
“We can’t say we’re not going to do any more meetings face-to-face. Or we’re not going to do student activities face-to-face,” Perez said. “We’re trying to do as many activities face-to-face because we want to get there. But at the same time, we don’t want to neglect [safety].”
If a student tests positive and they are symptomatic, the Texas Education Agency requires they go into remote instruction while they are symptomatic. Staff is also required to quarantine while symptomatic. Per CDC guidelines, neither have to test negative before returning to campus.
Mission has consistently had the highest COVID-positive cases in the county throughout the pandemic, according to the Hidalgo County Health dashboard — located on the county website. As of Sept. 14, 50.4% of Mission’s population has tested positive for COVID-19 at one point. For reference, the dashboard reports that 43% of Edinburg’s population has been infected, and 24% of McAllen’s population has been infected since 2020.
At Mission CISD, the superintendent said the district is monitoring conditions — as they change, so will district practices.
“We want to get back to normal,” Perez said. “But we don’t want to experience a huge spread [and then] we have to shut down our schools.”