Trustees approved a set of superintendent targets in October, with one target involving ongoing audits of COVID-19-related exclusions. The goal was to analyze whether too few or too many students and staff were being taken off campus due to pandemic protocols.
The superintendent's target for 2021-22, as approved by the board, is to have 90% of student exclusions fall within district parameters, which are aligned with Texas Education Agency and Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines. This means, so far, CCISD is meeting its own target.
“Overall, the auditor found that CCISD nurses exclude students and staff based on their professional assessment of symptoms and the prescribed  days per district protocol,” the first page of the audit reads. “Deviations from district policy were minimal.”
Internal Auditor Julie Smith interviewed the following people, according to the audit documents:
- The health services department’s assistant director and lead nurse;
- Campus nurses at Brookwood Elementary, Gilmore Elementary, Ross Elementary, Mossman Elementary, Landolt Elementary, Bayside Intermediate, League City Intermediate, Space Center Intermediate, Clear Creek High School and Clear Lake High School;
- The director of student data services; and
- One network technician/programmer who works on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Smith also reviewed numerous internal documents, including a sample of cases in the dashboard; policies and procedures used by campus nurses to perform case data entry and case management tasks; current versions of CCISD exclusion protocol distributed to parents and staff; and current COVID-19 exclusion and reporting requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the TEA, and the DSHS.
The scope of cases included a randomized sample of 10% of all cases entered in the dashboard from Sept. 20 through Oct. 20. A total 805 cases were entered during that time period, meaning Smith reviewed 81 random cases.
Of those 81 cases, a review of 46 positive or presumed positive cases identified zero over-exclusion errors and five under-exclusion errors. The review of eight negative cases resulted in 100% efficacy of district protocol, and the review of 27 exclusion cases resulted in the discovery of two errors.
Based on these findings, Smith recommended the district improve its communication and, in some cases, technology applications to increase future accuracy rates. According to the audit report, for example, apps including Skyward and Kronos could be used by staff to alert supervisors if a student or staff member is on campus when they are not supposed to be.
The audit also recommended revising the guidance given to parents, so that they know to report positive cases directly to their campus nurse. For employees, Smith recommended the district redistribute its COVID-19 leave information and emphasize the need for a lab-performed test if they wish to qualify for COVID-19-specific leave.
The timeline or quantity of subsequent interim audits could be adjusted moving forward, per the audit documents. CCISD considers the integrity of COVID-19 data collection, reporting and exclusion practices to be vital in its efforts with monitoring the virus, vital for parents and staff as they make informed decisions, and vital in forecasting classroom closures or modified operations, per the audit.