School leaders to parents: Being in class first day is imperative

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Asher Redd

School systems around West Alabama are reminding parents that having their children attend the first days of school isn’t a suggestion: It’s mandatory.

A system’s federal funding is based on attendance, and the first 20 days of the school year is how the government determines how much money those schools get.

So if fewer students show up on those first days, schools get less money than they should for the whole rest of the school year, said Tuscaloosa County School System Superintendent Keri Johnson.

Not to mention teachers don’t waste any time getting students learning new material.

“We’re going to get started quickly and we have a lot to accomplish this year, so we want our students to get maximized benefits,” Johnson said. “That’s why they need to be in school every day beginning on the first day of school.”

The amount of federal funding Alabama’s public schools get is determined by overall attendance through Labor Day weekend, Johnson said.

“It’s important for students to show up on the first day so they can meet their teacher, meet their classmates, learn their classroom routine and the school routines,” Johnson said. “To get back into the swing of things.”

But like the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a worry for schools, teachers, students and parents.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet released guidelines for schools this fall. Instead, they’re taking a more hands-off approach and giving systems the freedom to make their own decisions.

For TCSS, here’s what that means.

“Masking is not required, but if people would like to wear masks, if students or staff would like to wear masks, then they’re more than welcome to,” Johnson said. “We will continue with our cleaning procedures to make sure everything is clean.”

The system is also in dire need of more bus drivers, but Johnson said the bus system is still operating smoothly.

The Tuscaloosa County School System and Tuscaloosa City Schools begin the new school year Wednesday, Aug. 10.

You can check the start dates for other schools around West Alabama right here.

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