December 19, 2020: Data Update on COVID-19 & Our Schools
December 19, 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 December 4 - December 17, 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 208 TCSS students or employees who tested positive for COVID-19 during the December 4 through December 17 time period. This is approximately 1.3 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 1,731 students or employees have had to quarantine, due to possible COVID-19 exposure. This is approximately 10.8 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.
As of December 11, ADPH has updated guidance for schools to allow for a ten-day quarantine period for those identified as close contacts, but who do not show symptoms. Visit this page for more information.
Of the 208 positive cases, TCSS had a total of five schools, all at the middle or high school level, with 10 or more cases each. The highest number of cases (22) was at Tuscaloosa County High School, which is the largest school in our system, with approximately 1200 students registered for on-campus learning. The other four schools had between 10 and 15 cases each. The majority of schools in our system had nine or fewer cases. Below is a further breakdown:
22 confirmed positive cases: 1 school
Between 10 and 15 confirmed positive cases: 4 schools
Between 9 and 5 confirmed positive cases: 14 schools
Between 4 and 1 confirmed positive cases: 14 schools
Zero confirmed positive cases: 1 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 December 17, 2020, approximately 153 employees were listed as absent under the “COVID-19” absence code. This is 6.7 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.
During the break, we ask our students and families to be diligent about practicing health-promoting habits. For our first week of second semester, we will implement an A/B schedule for On-Campus learners. We reached this decision based on the number of quarantines, isolations, and employee absences we experienced following Thanksgiving, and the need to give our families advance notice of this change. Our purpose in beginning the semester on an A/B schedule is to minimize the impact of holiday COVID exposures on our schools, and to help us quickly resume and maintain our full-time on-campus schedule.
We wish our entire TCSS community a restful and safe break. We are very thankful for the hard work of so many that has allowed us to continue serving our students and families, despite the challenges of this year.