January 19, 2021
By Trisha Powell Crain | firstname.lastname@example.org
While cases of COVID-19 in Alabama’s K-12 schools are down overall from the last report of 2020, nearly a quarter of districts are reporting their highest numbers to date.
The number of new cases reported the week of Jan. 15 was 3,071, down from 3,352 cases reported the week before the winter break, the last time school coronavirus cases were reported.
The data does not differentiate between positive cases among students, teachers and staff nor does it indicate where the coronavirus was contracted.
The newly-reported cases come on the heels of a surge in new coronavirus cases after the holiday season. Among all cases statewide, the numbers show an average of 3,500 new cases per day for the past 14 days, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health coronavirus dashboard.
Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey told the state board of education Thursday that teachers may have to wait longer to get the vaccine, as first responders and law enforcement are being prioritized ahead of teachers in phase 1b, which began Monday.
RELATED: Alabama teachers may have to wait longer for COVID-19 vaccine
The state began posting schools COVID-19 data Oct. 30. Thirty-one of Alabama’s 138 school districts are reporting their highest case numbers to date. Coronavirus cases were reported in 130 school districts and one public charter school. Four districts and four charter schools reported no new cases, while four districts did not report any data.
Tuscaloosa City Schools reported 175 new cases, the highest number reported by any district.
Five school districts reported more than 100 new cases:
- Tuscaloosa City, with 11,700 students and staff, reported 175 new cases,
- Mobile County, with 58,000 students and staff, reported 134 new cases,
- Jefferson County, with 39,000 students and staff, reported 129 new cases,
- Tuscaloosa County, with 20,400 students and staff, reported 118 new cases, and
- Elmore County, with 12,600 students and staff, reported 103 new cases.
Many districts eased back into learning in January, starting school remotely to mitigate the potential spread of the virus that officials feared could linger from family vacations and visits.
A few districts reopened, then quickly shifted to remote-only instruction after case numbers increased. In Pike County schools, new cases rose to 25, up five-fold from the five cases reported prior to winter break. The district has shifted to remote-only instruction until Jan. 29.
The Alabama Department of Public Health dashboard for K-12 schools shows the higher number of new cases in darker shades on the map.
No numbers are reported on the number of students and staff in quarantine due to being a “close contact” of someone with COVID-19, though some school districts do publish their own dashboards including that information.
Many districts eased back into school in January, starting back remotely to mitigate the potential spread of the virus that officials are worried about as families gather for the holidays.
School officials ask students and staff to voluntarily report coronavirus cases to schools in order to not only keep track, but also to ensure close contacts of those testing positive are quarantining for the appropriate amount of time, as currently required by the state health officer.
For a look at the progression of cases reported by school officials since Oct. 30, check out the table below.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/cOGVH/3/
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