Local ISD Deploys COVID Reporting Rules

Mother puts a safety mask on her son's face. | Image by Volurol/Shutterstock

A North Texas school district is reinstituting mandatory COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and infection reporting.

In “A Special Message from the School Nurse,” Garland ISD informed staff and students that if they start to show symptoms, “completing a COVID-19 test will be required. … If the test is positive, they should follow the positive reporting requirement.”

After laying out rules for when an infected person may return to Garland ISD campuses, the district said in the message, “Staff and students who are able to return … should wear a face covering while on campus for the full 10 days.”

In bold font, the district stressed, “Parents and staff are required to report ALL positive COVID-19 cases.” It linked a reporting form in the message.

While the reporting form requests student ID numbers and birthdays from sick students, the form for potentially infected employees is far more comprehensive.

In addition to an employee ID number, the school district is also asking employees to note their gender, home address, what type of COVID-19 test they used, and where the employee may have contracted the virus.

Furthermore, the staff form requires employees to disclose their vaccination status.

The message sparked criticism from medical freedom activists who raised concerns over the ISD’s demands.

Michelle Evans, policy director of Texans for Vaccine Choice, told The Dallas Express, “Garland ISD’s ‘special message’ has been heard loud and clear — COVID tyranny is back, and the Texas legislature did not do enough to protect constituents from this type of overreach.”

“What is especially alarming is that the district finds it appropriate to insert itself into staff members’ private health decisions by requiring them to report their vaccination status and submit to testing,” Evans said. “Texans cannot comply their way out of this — we need the legislature to act and act fast.”

The Dallas Express requested additional information from Garland ISD about the reporting requirements but did not receive a response by press time.

While state lawmakers have passed a number of laws in response to COVID-19, including banning local governments from enforcing vaccine mandates, mask requirements, school closures, or business lockdowns, some legislators are calling for more action to be taken.

“We must BAN ALL FORMS of vaccine mandates in the State of Texas!” tweeted Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth). “While I’m grateful for what we’ve done so far to push back against leftist tyrannical lockdowns and mandates, I hope [Gov. Greg Abbott] will add the Texas Vaccine Freedom Act to the call in the next special session.”

The Vaccine Freedom Act had been introduced in the most recent regular legislative session by Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) and Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston). It died in the House despite passing the Senate, as reported by The Dallas Express. The bill would have prevented private entities from establishing masking and vaccine requirements.

Still, some have pushed back on government leaders seeking to prohibit private businesses from establishing such requirements.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University and director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, argued in Scientific American in 2021:

“A number of governors have issued executive orders prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates or vaccine passports. These edicts restrict private businesses, schools and [institutions of higher learning] from asking for proof of vaccination. … [V]accines not only protect the person vaccinated but also that person’s family, neighbors, and classmates or co-workers.”

In Texas, concerns over the ability of companies to require individuals to abide by COVID-19-related rules they may disagree with have risen as more institutions redeploy them amid a recent spike in infections.

As covered by The Dallas Express, a major medical company based in Plano ordered all staff, patients, and guests to wear masks. Additionally, a Rowlett pediatric clinic recently threatened a mother with child protective services if she continued refusing to mask herself and her children while in the clinic.

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