The full return to in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year has seen an increase in daily positive COVID-19 cases reported across campuses, with local districts required to report weekly totals to the Texas Department of State Health Services—all while the delta variant continues to place a strain on local hospitals.

Healthcare officials have sounded the alarm, specifically with regard to pediatric illness. Trauma Service Area E, a 19-county region that includes Tarrant and Denton counties, has 116 confirmed pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sept. 2—the highest COVID-19 pediatric hospitalization total yet in TSA-E, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

Officials report a majority of hospitalizations being linked to unvaccinated individuals, with students who are under the age of 12 being ineligible for the vaccine.

Just two weeks after returning to campuses, case counts being reported at Grapevine-Colleyville, Carroll, Keller and Northwest ISDs are beginning to paint a picture of the level of spread.

In an email shared with parents on Aug. 31, for instance, Keller ISD officials informed parents of “a high volume of positive COVID-19 cases reported daily” on campuses.

“We strongly encourage the use of face masks within District facilities. We are also asking for continued support from our families by reminding them to keep students home from school if they are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19,” the district said in a statement.

For the week of Aug. 23, GCISD and Carroll ISD reported 79 and 45 new student cases, respectively, to DSHS. Keller ISD reported 342 new student cases for that same week.

NISD reported 61 new student cases to the DSHS for the week of Aug. 16. Data for the week of Aug. 23 is not available yet for NISD.

In comparison, on Sept. 20, 2020—the earliest data available from DSHS for the 2020-21 school year—GCISD had 12 total student cases, Keller ISD had 32 total student cases and NISD had 16 total student cases. CISD reported none, according to the agency.

In a statement, NISD said the pandemic continues to “serve as a challenge for school districts across the nation, and Northwest ISD remains proactive in working to keep students and staff healthy.” Similarly, district officials at NISD encouraged the wearing of a mask, as well as vaccination for those eligible.

CISD said in a statement that the health and safety of all students and staff continue to remain a top priority and will "continues to monitor test-confirmed COVID-19 positive cases, notify parents, and partner with the Tarrant County Health Department to discuss active and new case numbers."

According to Karen Fitzgerald, executive director of communications & engagement at CISD, the total case count to date since the first week of school is 167, which is 1.8% of all students and staff on the campuses.

The local districts, with the exception of Carroll ISD, are also reporting cases on their respective websites.