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Health/Science/Tech

Collin College Releases COVID-19 Case Numbers Following Public Records Request

Glass front entrance of Collin Community College Wiley campus
Collin.edu
Collin Community College's Wiley campus.

Collin College says 179 students and 15 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 from August through October this year.

Collin College faculty members have asked for the number of positive cases in the community college system among students and staff for months, but officials had refused to publicly release that information.

The Plano Campus (Spring Creek) is part of the Collin College system.
The lack of transparency about coronavirus cases in this North Texas community college system is causing concern among some faculty and students.

In an August letter to faculty and board members, Collin College District President Neil Matkin challenged the severity of the coronavirus as he feared a potential drop in enrollment. He wrote “the effects of this pandemic have been blown utterly out of proportion across our nation and reported with unfortunate sensationalism.”

Frustrated faculty members considered that view cavalier and dangerous.

Undeterred, the school pushed for a fall open to in-person classes, with all instructors on campus, unless granted a medical accommodation to teach from home.

Collin County resident Danielle Sanit submitted an open records request for information about COVID-19 cases at the school on Oct. 26, with an expected response due Nov. 6. She asked for case numbers from August, September and October. The information wasn't released until Nov. 11 — the same day KERA published a story about students' and staff's concerns that the school was not sharing data.

Sanit said she believes every Collin County resident has a right and need to know the school's COVID-19 numbers. She is also friends with a Collin College faculty member.

Collin College said it doesn't test students or employees for COVID-19. It relies on self-reporting to compile numbers of positive cases. Here are the numbers that were released in the open records request:

August: 19 students, 3 employees.
September: 88 students, 0 employees.
October: 72 students, 12 employees.

By comparison, Houston’s Community College and North Central Texas College, which includes Denton County, showed lower case numbers.

Collin College’s total over those three months was 194 positive cases. North Central Texas College’s was 33 through Nov. 11. Houston Community College’s was 17.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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