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COVID-19 In DFW April 4-April 10: Schools Reopen, But Concerns About Students And Learning Remain

The exterior of Haggard Middle School.
Plano ISD website
Haggard Middle School.

Also, 5 million Texans are fully vaccinated, and at least 8 million people have received one dose.

For the latest on the pandemic in North Texas, visit KERA News' COVID-19 Live Updates page.

Saturday, April 10

Dallas County Reports 275 New Cases, 10 Deaths

The 10 deaths give Dallas County a cumulative total of 3,697. Saturday’s deaths include people who ranged in age from their 60s to their 80s.

89 New Cases In Collin County

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports 89 new COVID-19 cases in Collin County.

More Than 5 Million Texans Fully Vaccinated

Across the state, 5,257,984 people are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Officials also report 8,817,293 people have received at least one dose.

Friday, April 9

Dallas County Reports 294 Cases, 18 Deaths

The 18 deaths give Dallas County a total of 3,687. The deaths reported Friday include people who ranged in age from their 20s to their 90s. All had underlying high-risk health care conditions.

Variants are also on the rise in the county, with 27 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) being diagnosed in Dallas County residents, and four additional cases of the B.1.429 variant from California. To date, there have been a total of 46 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7; six cases of B.1.429 variant; and one case of a B.1.526 variant in the county.

Tarrant County Reports 208 Cases, 11 Deaths

The deaths include a man from Grapevine who exceeded 90, two women from Fort Worth in their 80s, a man from Keller in his 80s, a woman from Benbrook in her 80s, a man from Colleyville in his 70s, two men from Fort Worth in their 60s, a man from Haltom City in his 60s, two men from Bedford in their 50s. All but one had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,351 confirmed deaths and 244,995 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 87 Cases

Of the 87 cases reported, 83 are active cases. Denton County has a total of 72,583 cases and 476 deaths.

South Oak Cliff Vaccination Event Taking Place On Saturday

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced that a vaccination clinic will be held at South Oak Cliff High School on Saturday. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Vaccinators from Sanitas Medical Centers, UT Southwestern and Golden Life Wellness Center plan to administer about 250 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by appointment.

Johnson also said with Uber to provide promo codes for free rides to and from the school.

Fewer Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Available To Texans Next Week

While Texas still expects to get a large supply of COVID-19 vaccines next week, the allocation will be lower than the 2.5 million doses the state received this week. That's because fewer of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine doses will be available.

More than 1.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to providers across Texas next week. The Texas Department of State Health Services is allocating 796,360 first doses to 468 providers in 116 counties.

Imelda Garcia, with the Texas Department of State Health Services says fewer Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available until the FDA authorizes a Baltimore production plant where a mix-up ruined millions of doses.

"For us here in Texas it's going to go from about 500,000 doses to just about 130,000," Garcia said.

Fort Worth ISD Is Asking Parents How To Structure School This Summer & Fall

Fort Worth ISD is launching a survey to help determine if classes will be in-person and what the schedule will be for this summer and fall.

The district says they're looking for input on important decisions like: what kinds of resources do families need, how parents feel about extended school days and summer learning sessions, virtual and in-person classroom instruction and what it would take for parents to feel comfortable to sending students to school for in-person instruction.

The survey launches Monday and will be open through Sunday, April 25.

Texas Senate Explores Funding Job Training Program

State lawmakers are proposing an initiative to help workers displaced by the pandemic get training for high demand jobs as the economy continues to recover.

Republican State Senator Brandon Creighton is the lead author of the bipartisan bill in the upper chamber that would create a grant program administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“The True Initiative will create a pipeline from the classroom to the workforce, ensuring a competitive edge for students and industry," Creighton said.

Community colleges could apply for funding through the program to help Texas workers acquire new skills and credentials.

Millions of Texans have filed for unemployment relief over the last year.

Thursday, April 8

Dallas County Reports 244 New Cases

Another 244 cases were reported in the county today. That brings the total to 253,446. Today, the county reported 22 deaths.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said nearly 37% of eligible Dallas County residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

76 New Cases In Denton County

There are 76 additional cases in the area, raising the total to 72,498. Another 242 newly-recovered cases have been reported, increasing the countywide recovery total to 67,374.

Tarrant County Reports 323 Additional Cases

Another 323 cases increases the total to 252,461. There have been 3,340 deaths and 244,708 people who have recovered from the virus in the area.

President Of Texas Medical Association Says Gov. Abbott’s Order Banning Vaccine Passports May Not Have Significant Impact On Public Health

Dr. Diana Fite, president of the Texas Medical Association, says Governor Greg Abbott’s recent order banning state agencies and publicly funded organizations from requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports may not have a significant public health impact.

“I think as we get more people vaccinated and we reach that good level that it won’t really matter one way or the other because as soon as we have enough vaccinated, we will develop herd immunity, which means those few left over that are not vaccinated will then suddenly become safe,” she said.

Other Republican governors in states, like Florida and Idaho, have issued similar bans aimed at making sure people don’t have to prove their vaccination status. Meanwhile, the White House has ruled out a federal “vaccine passport” system.

Vaccine Distribution Continues At Texas Prisons

COVID-19 vaccinations are underway at Texas prisons, which have been hard hit during the pandemic. So far, more than 34,000 inmates have tested positive for the virus.

“At this point, all of our 99 units around the state have received some allocation of doses,” said Jeremy Desel with the state prison system.

More than 4,000 inmates had received at least one shot as of Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 7

Many Schools Are Offering In-Person Learning, But Not Many Families Are Participating

A recent survey shows nearly 46% of public schools offered five days a week of in-person learning to all students in February, but only 34% of students were learning full-time in the classroom.

White students were far more likely to be learning in-person than their non-white classmates.

378 New Cases, 22 More Deaths In Dallas County

Dallas County is reporting 378 new cases, of which 256 are confirmed. There's been a cumulative total of 253,231 confirmed cases in the county and 3,647 deaths.

The people's whose deaths were reported today ranged in age from their 30s to their 90s.

County health officials report over 311,000 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given out at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic.

Tarrant County Reports 242 New Cases

Today's new cases bring the countywide total to 252,138 cases including 3,333 deaths.

Denton County Reports 103 New Cases

Denton County Public Health announced 103 new COVID-19 cases today, of which 89 are active cases.

This increases the cumulative, countywide total to 72,422 cases, including 476 deaths.

Tuesday, April 6

Dallas County Reports 379 Cases, 20 Deaths

The 20 deaths give Dallas County a total of 3,625. The data being reported Tuesday includes numbers from Sunday and Monday because of the Easter holiday.

The deaths reported Tuesday include people who ranged in age from their 30s to their 90s. All but one person had underlying high-risk health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 580 Cases, 10 Deaths

The deaths include a woman from Azle in her 80s, two men from Fort Worth in their 80s, a man from Fort Worth in his 70s, a man from Euless in his 70s, a man from Arlington in his 60s, a man from Hurst in his 60s, two men from Fort Worth in their 50s, and a man from Fort Worth in his 40s. All but one had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,324 confirmed deaths and 244,159 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 161 Cases, Three Deaths

The county now has a total of 476 deaths. Tuesday's reported deaths included a man in his 40s, a woman in her 70s, and a man in his 80s who was a resident of a long-term care facility.

Nearly 80% Of Teachers, School Staff, and Childcare Workers Have Been Vaccinated

Nearly 80 percent of Pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and childcare workers received at least their first shot of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March, according to the CDC’s latest estimates and survey data.

“Our push to ensure that teachers, school staff, and childcare workers were vaccinated during March has paid off and paved the way for safer in-person learning,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue expanding our vaccination efforts, as we work to ensure confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.”

On March 2, President Biden directed all states to make Pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and childcare workers eligible for vaccination and prioritized vaccinations for them within the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program during the month of March.

More than 2 million teachers, school staff, and childcare workers were vaccinated through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program during the month of March. Additionally, 5-6 million were vaccinated through their state programs through the end of March.

Gov. Abbott Orders State Agencies Can't Require Proof Of Vaccination

This morning, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order against state agencies requiring proof of a person's COVID-19 vaccine status to receive services or enter any place.

"As I have said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced," Abbott said. "Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives."

He said the order also applies to organizations receiving public funds.

Fair Park Vaccination Site Needs Volunteers

Volunteering for 10 to 15 hours has been one way to earn a shot at the Fair Park site. But many of those now-inoculated volunteers have disappeared.

The Dallas Fire Department’s Steve Lopez has helped run things at Fair Park since the site opened in January. He wants at least 100 more volunteers a day to keep the gears going.

"As we run short on volunteers in key positions it actually extends wait times," Lopez said. "Because we don’t have key people at key spots…it’s something we're continuing to try to navigate."

With shots now available to all adults, Fair Park’s expected to see thousands of additional people arriving. More volunteers would help keep the wait times short for that influx of people.

Read more here.

Carroll School District Will Let Students And Staff Wear Masks Outside

Beginning Tuesday, the Carroll school district is giving its staff and students the choice to wear a mask when outside.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the school board voted last night to change the district’s mask mandate.

Masks are still required inside buildings and classrooms.

While most districts in North Texas have kept mask mandates, the Weatherford, Melissa and Joshua school districts have also removed the requirement.

Monday, April 5

Dallas County Reports 211 Cases, 14 Deaths

The 14 deaths give Dallas County a total of 3,605. Because of the Easter holiday, Monday's case counts and death toll included data processed from Saturday, and Tuesday's data will include numbers from Sunday and Monday.

Monday's reported deaths included people who ranged in age from their 60s to their 100s, and all had underlying high-risk health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 210 Cases, 14 Deaths

The deaths include a man from Fort Worth who exceeded 90, two men from Arlington in their 80s, a man from Euless in his 70s, a man from Arlington in his 70s, a woman and two men from Arlington in their 60s, a man from Bedford in his 60s, a man from River Oaks in his 60s, a man from Arlington in his 50s, a woman from unincorporated Tarrant County in her 50s, a woman from Arlington in her 40s, and a man from Fort Worth in his 40s. All but two had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,314 confirmed deaths and 243,299 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 185 Cases, Seven Deaths

The seven deaths give Denton County a total of 473. The deaths reported Monday included people who ranged in age from their 30s to their 70s.

Schools Are Reopening, But Catching Up Might Be Harder Than Expected

Dr. Irwin Redlener is the founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute of Columbia University, and he said it’s urgent to get kids back into their classrooms.

"This interruption in their education is absolutely devastating," Redlener said to Texas Public Radio. "You know, it's like kids who were struggling before the pandemic, struggling in school, are now having a huge additional educational trauma and disruption of their education, from schools being closed, down, reopen, closed, down, reopen, this has not been good for children who have been struggling."

More than a few students have fallen behind over the last year. So how do we help them catch up? Redlener said his answer may be controversial.

"Well, we can't have school as usual, we can't have these, you know, two months, antiquated summer vacations, or hours that are not, you know, sufficient during the regular school day. So we're gonna have to pay for the capacity to teach kids through the summer, and whatever else we need to do in terms of making sure that schools have the wherewithal and kids have the ability to be in school longer. That’s one of the things it’s just going to take."

A lot of parents are worried that even with millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, it still may be too soon to send students back to school safely. Redlener says for schools to reopen, there needs to be strict adherence to public health measures.

"So hand washing, facemasks, but the other thing that is really important for schools is this kind of issue about ventilation in the classrooms. Because if you're even if you're hand washing, wearing masks, and you have a tightly closed room without ventilation, those coronaviruses will remain in the air and can still get breathed in by children."

Some schools that are in disrepair or are overcrowded — or both — will not have adequate ventilation. Redlener said that’s where the 1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue Plan comes in. $122 billion in the rescue plan have been set aside to help schools reopen safely.

Read More: A Timeline Of COVID-19's Spread In North Texas

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