An Update on COVID-19 & Our Schools
September 3, 2020
From the Office of the Superintendent
To Our TCSS Families, Faculty, Staff, and Community,
There are many aspects of student, employee, and health-related information we are unable to share publicly, due to the need to protect the privacy of individuals. However, the Tuscaloosa County School System has compiled data regarding COVID-19 and its impact on our schools, within the first two weeks of the new year, that we are able to share with you. We have all learned that the COVID-19 situation changes rapidly, with so much information coming from so many sources. This is a way to keep our community informed of the current COVID-19 situation within our schools. If a student or faculty/staff member is identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case within the school, they will be contacted directly by their school.
The information below reflects cases from August 20 – September 1, 2020. This information is compiled by our TCSS Department of Health Services, working in conjunction with administration at local schools.
- We are aware of 29 TCSS students who have tested positive for COVID-19 during this time period. TCSS has approximately 19,000 students, enrolled across 34 schools. District-wide, approximately 65 percent of our students are currently attending school on campus. Some schools have as much as 80 percent of their students on campus.
- During this time period, a total of 308 students have had to quarantine, due to possible COVID-19 exposure. TCSS identified these students following Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines. These students were not identified because they displayed COVID-19 symptoms, but because they were determined to be close contacts of positive cases within our schools.
- Since TCSS employees returned to work on August 12, TCSS is aware of less than ten faculty or staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19. TCSS has approximately 2,275 employees.
- Brookwood High School has the greatest number of students who have quarantined, due to possible COVID-19 exposure. From August 20 – September 3, 125 Brookwood High students have been quarantined. The reason for this higher number is because five positive COVID-19 cases at the school are students involved in several extracurricular activities, in which students come in close contact with a greater number of their peers. Brookwood High has a total enrollment of approximately 1,000 students. Brookwood High School became aware of the positive student cases through parents communicating with the school. This type of communication, as quickly as possible, is necessary in fighting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.
- TCSS has been in contact with ADPH regarding the COVID-19 cases at Brookwood High School, and it has been determined there is no need for any additional safety measures at the school, beyond the extensive cleaning and sanitation already being conducted. The students with positive cases have not been identified as close contacts with one another at the school. Therefore, there is no indication that the students contracted COVID-19 at school.
- At this time, we do not have a total number of faculty/staff who have quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure since the start of school. However, on September 2, 2020, 43 employees were listed as absent under the “COVID-19” absence code. This does not mean an individual has a COVID-19 diagnosis, but they may have been exposed to COVID-19. This equals less than two percent of our 2,275 employees.
Of course, it is our hope that none of our students or faculty/staff members would be affected by COVID-19. However, we know the virus is in our community, and that it will impact our schools. Considering the highly contagious nature of the virus, we are encouraged that the steps we are taking to reduce risks are effective. These key steps involve wearing masks, social distancing, cleaning within our schools, hand washing, and quarantine for those who have been exposed to the virus. We ask our entire TCSS community to keep maintaining these healthy practices, especially as we move into a long holiday weekend. It is our goal to keep our schools open for On-Campus Learning, and we all must keep working together to make that possible.