Some schools going remote amid COVID absences

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Several Tuscaloosa County schools are reopening today after an increase in faculty and student absences forced an abrupt swap to remote learning on Tuesday.

In all, Holt, Brookwood, Cottondale and Flatwoods elementary schools, Duncanville Middle School and Lloyd Wood Education Center were closed Tuesday.

Tuscaloosa County School System Public Relations Director Terri Brewer said the system is taking things one day at a time.

‘We don’t want to have students out any longer than we have to,” she said.

The closures are not based on the number of absent students. Rather, it’s all about school staff levels.

“There’s no formula or magic number for closing a school,” Brewer said. “With 35 schools at different grade levels with different substitute pools across Tuscaloosa County, there’s not a formula for this. We’re looking at how we can cover a school with staff in a meaningful way for students, so it’s a very complicated situation.”

Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon said he hates the circumstances but understands there aren’t many alternatives.

“I hate that the kids aren’t in school getting an education,” Herndon said. “But when the teachers aren’t there to teach, what else do you do than go virtual? I’ll leave that up to the (Tuscaloosa) County School Board to see what recommendation they have. We have to look out for our safety and health and everybody else.”

Like many school districts around the state, TCSS is pleading with parents and the community to help fill the massive substitute teacher void.

“A lot of people want to know how they can help right now,” Brewer said. “Becoming a substitute is a fantastic way to help at any time. Right now there’s a very dire need, and it’s a great way to have a positive impact on students’ lives.”

If you’re interested in becoming a sub or working with the school system, click right here.

According to the system’s website, substitute teacher hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the temporary rate of pay during COVID-19 is:

  • $80 a day for subs without a college degree
  • $90 a day for subs with a four-year college degree
  • $125 a day for retired teachers
  • $150 a day for teachers who retired from TCSS
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