Health officials say COVID-19 positivity rates in Austin schools outpacing rest of community

School room desks
By Talk 1370

AUSTIN ( -- Local health officials say the concern over COVID-19 spreading in local schools is being backed up by testing data, where the positivity rate is outpacing the rest of the community.

“It’s going to be more and more difficult for us to control the outbreaks in schools,” Austin/Travis County interim health authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday. “If your child can learn virtually, if that is an option for your household, please choose it this week.”

Out of 2,560 children between ages 3 and 18 that were tested by Austin Public Health last week, 19.8% of elementary age, 20.2% of high school age, and an all-time high 27.1% of middle school aged children tested positive. All three age groups outpace the larger community, which had a positivity rate of 17.8% in the week ending Jan. 2.

The increase in positivity rates is one of the reasons some local districts have made a shift towards remote learning this week. Austin ISD is encouraging families to learn remotely this week, while Del Valle ISD has switched to 100% remote learning through at least the end of the week.