September 17: An Update on COVID-19 & Our Schools
September 17, 2020
From the Office of the Superintendent
To Our TCSS Families, Faculty, Staff, and Community,
As we first shared with you on September 3, the Tuscaloosa County School System is compiling data regarding COVID-19 and its impact on our schools. Although 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, there is information that we can and want to share with you. We shared our first update on September 3, and from this point forward, we plan to share information on a bi-weekly basis. 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 September 1 – September 11, 2020. This information is compiled by our TCSS Department of Health Services, working in conjunction with administration at local schools. Visit this page for our previous update with COVID-19 data from August 20 – September 1, 2020.
- We are aware of 48 TCSS students who have tested positive for COVID-19 during the September 1 through September 11 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 349 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.
- Similar to our last update, schools with the largest numbers of quarantined students were at the secondary level. During this time period, Tuscaloosa County High School had 85 students quarantined, and Hillcrest High School had 46 students quarantined. TCHS has a total enrollment of more than 1600 students, and Hillcrest has a total enrollment of more than 1300. At the secondary level, students come in contact with more of their peers, due to extracurricular activities and class changes, as compared to elementary school. This is a contributing factor to the greater numbers of students potentially exposed, when there is a positive COVID-19 case at a middle or high 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 17, 2020, 33 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 or needed other COVID-19 related leave. This is approximately one percent of our 2,275 employees.
- On September 15, the company that provides our substance used to disinfect surfaces, along with the Alabama Department of Public Health, conducted random testing at four TCSS schools. These schools were in an area where we recently had a higher number of students quarantined, due to possible COVID-19 exposure. Test results at three schools were classified in the “surgery safe” category, and results at one school scored very high in the “retail safe” category. This disinfectant product is used in all of our schools, and we are very pleased with these results regarding its performance.
Considering the highly contagious nature of the virus, we continue to be encouraged that the steps we are taking to reduce risks in our schools 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, including when you are away from school. This is essential in keeping our schools open!