Houston Doctor Fears Return of High COVID-19 Transmission, Positivity Rates at Return of In-Person Learning

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The responsibility to do what’s best for students and teachers weighs heavily on school leaders. Many North Texas districts have pushed back in-person learning to September or October.

As school boards across North Texas discuss when and how to start school, Dr. Peter Hotez, a Dean at Baylor’s College of Medicine, is straight to the point about in-person learning. He said if transmission numbers do not decrease further...

“It’s going to fail and it’s going to fail pretty badly,” said Hotez. “We have dropped down in the number of cases. But not at a level that’s sufficient to ensure that we won’t have a fair bit of COVID-19 infected kids or adults in the classroom this fall.”

A report from UT Southwestern Medical center said social distancing and other measures are 66% effective in Dallas County, and the percent of positive cases is going down.

Hotez worries opening classrooms will undo those gains.

“No matter what you do with plexiglass and social distancing and masks, kids are going to come in with COVID-19, teachers will, bus drivers will, and there will be transmission and teachers will get sick. That’s the reality of what will happen,” he said.

Some school leaders have looked to Hotez for his expertise. He said large metro areas should move forward with caution.

“I’ve said, you know, if you were doing all you were doing in schools in New Hampshire and Vermont or upstate New York where there’s really low levels of transmission I think it will do ok,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to work in Dallas. I don’t think it’s going to work in Austin or San Antonio or Houston.”

Experts from UT Southwestern say even with the downward trend, the numbers are still just high enough to suggest more infection is out there and school openings could very likely change the outlook.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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