Latest Data Update on COVID-19 & Our Schools
December 4, 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 we can and want to share with you. 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 November 19 – December 4, 2020. This information is compiled by our TCSS Department of Health Services, working in conjunction with administration at local schools. Scroll to the bottom of this page for all previous updates.
We are aware of 163 TCSS students or employees who tested positive for COVID-19 during the November 19 through December 4 time period. This is one percent of the current on-campus TCSS population. TCSS has approximately 19,000 students, enrolled across 34 schools. District-wide, approximately 84 percent of our students are currently attending school on campus. TCSS has approximately 2,275 faculty/staff members.
During this time period, a total of 878 students or employees have had to quarantine, due to possible COVID-19 exposure. This is approximately 5.5 percent of our current on-campus population. TCSS identified these individuals following Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines. They were not identified because they displayed COVID-19 symptoms, but because they were determined to be close contacts of positive cases within our schools. This week, the Centers for Disease Control released options for shortening quarantine times from the recommended 14 days to 10 or 7 days. According to CDC, “local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.” At this time, we are awaiting guidance from ADPH, regarding any impact the CDC’s guidelines will have on ADPH guidelines for Alabama schools.
Of the 163 positive cases, 20 of those were at Tuscaloosa County High School, the largest school in our system. TCHS currently has about 1200 students registered for on-campus learning. All other schools had 11 or fewer cases each, with the majority of those having five or fewer cases. Below is a further breakdown:
- Between 10 and 11 confirmed positive cases: 3 schools
- Between 9 and 6 confirmed positive cases: 7 schools
- Between 5 and 1 confirmed positive cases: 20 schools
- Zero confirmed positive cases: 3 schools
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 December 4, 2020, approximately 126 employees were listed as absent under the “COVID-19” absence code. This is 5.5 percent of our 2,275 employees. 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. COVID-related absences, on top of the other typical reasons for employee absences, create a greater need for substitute teachers. While we are working to secure as many substitutes as possible, many of our regular substitutes are unavailable due to COVID-19. We encourage anyone who is available and wants to support our schools to consider becoming a substitute. This is one of the most impactful ways someone can help our schools right now. Information on becoming a substitute is available on the front page of our TCSS web site.
As we shared with you in the December 3 update from the Superintendent, keeping our schools open for in-person instruction continues to be the goal and intention of the Tuscaloosa County School System. Our last day of school for the semester is Friday, December 18, and we are working to keep our schools open for in-person instruction for these next two weeks. We continue to be encouraged that the steps we are taking to fight COVID-19 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 students and families to be diligent about practicing these same health-promoting habits. Your help in this is absolutely critical to keeping our schools open.
As we move toward the close of this semester, we are so thankful for the continued hard work and dedication of our outstanding faculty and staff, as well as the support and cooperation of our students and families.