Alexander City Schools is going virtual Friday, Jan. 14 and returning Thursday, Jan. 20, the school system told families, with 97 students and 26 staff COVID-positive at the time of the announcement.
More than 350 students and staff were absent Wednesday from either infection or quarantine, with "multiple pending test results," the school system said in a statement. The current caseload is the highest it's been all school year, surpassing the previous record of 80 infections on Sept. 3 when the delta variant was at its height in Tallapoosa County.
Earlier this week, the school district asked families to plan for potential closure next week, a measure to be taken only if "absolutely necessary." In an email sent to parents Monday, the school system said it was "facing increased difficulty with staffing our schools due to the number of employees who are positive or quarantined with COVID-19," with many of its substitute teachers also out sick. In the 48-hour time period since that email was sent, cases doubled system-wide.
Jim Pearson Elementary School currently faces the biggest staffing shortage, with nearly one in five employees COVID-positive according to the district'spublic dashboard. The dashboard does not report how many are also absent due to exposure.
Among students, cases have more than tripled since they returned from winter break less than a week ago. As of Wednesday afternoon, 23 Jim Pearson students, 20 Stephens Elementary students, 21 Radney Elementary students, 10 Alexander City Middle School students and 23 Benjamin Russell High School students were infected.
"We are hopeful that this temporary shift to remote teaching and learning will lessen transmission and allow ACS to safely resume in-person instruction," the school system stated Wednesday. "If there are any changes to the dates specified, a notification will be sent to all parents and updated on our social media platforms and website."
"Grab-and-go" breakfast and lunch will be available for parent pick-up from Stephens Elementary School, each day at 11-11:30 a.m.
On Tuesday, Tallapoosa County Schools also announced it would be going virtual for the rest of the week, with all three campuses closed to students until after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. At the time of closure, 94 students and 19 employees at Tallapoosa County Schools were COVID-positive, with another 287 students and eight employees absent due to exposure.