Latest Data Update on COVID-19 & Our Schools
November 20, 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 6 – November 19, 2020. This information is compiled by our TCSS Department of Health Services, working in conjunction with administration at local schools.
We are aware of 163 TCSS students or employees who tested positive for COVID-19 during the November 6 through November 19 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 1087 students or employees have had to quarantine, due to possible COVID-19 exposure. This is approximately 6.8 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.
Of the 163 positive cases, 75 (almost half) of those were at Tuscaloosa County High School. TCHS currently has about 1200 students registered for on-campus learning. All other schools had nine or fewer cases each. Below is a further breakdown:
Between 9 and 6 confirmed positive cases: 5 schools
Between 5 and 1 confirmed positive cases: 25 schools
Zero confirmed positive cases: 3 schools
Because of the number of positive cases at TCHS, 37 percent of the system-wide close contact total was at TCHS. Earlier this month, TCSS shared a message directly with the TCHS community, informing them of the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases within the school community. While we cannot ensure that no one will contract COVID-19 on one of our campuses, we believe the social distancing measures and cleaning practices within our schools are effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. As an extra precautionary measure, when the rise in cases began at TCHS, the school brought in additional cleaning resources. Many of our schools have a high percentage of students attending on-campus school, with few or no confirmed COVID-19 cases within the school population.
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 November 20, 2020, approximately 113 employees were listed as absent under the “COVID-19” absence code. This is just less than five 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.
Despite the challenges we have faced this school year, 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. As we move into the holiday season, we ask our students and families to please practice the same health-promoting habits that we practice in our schools. Your help in this is absolutely critical to keeping our schools open and our students and educators healthy.
As we shared with you in the November 17 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. We look forward to completing the semester in-person, when we return after the Thanksgiving break, on Monday, November 30.
We wish our entire TCSS family a safe and restful holiday. We are thankful for the students and families who make up the Tuscaloosa County School System, and for our educators and support professionals who work so hard for our students every day.