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Superintendent's Weekly Update

Dear VHCS family,

We have completed 24 days of school, and it has been a great start. The tradition of striving for academic excellence continues in Vestavia Hills City Schools. Our exceptional teachers are challenging students through engaging learning experiences. Students are rising to those challenges while displaying remarkable perseverance. The light that emanates from the work in our school buildings is a beacon for our community!

The COVID-19 Data Dashboard now includes absences at the end of each week for students by system and school. On Friday, September 10, there were 48 students absent for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and 65 absent for close contact. The decreasing number of students who are absent for a positive is consistent with trends throughout Jefferson County. The ADPH Dashboard also shows a similar pattern of community spread during the January COVID-19 surge when we had a statewide mask mandate. 

The largest decrease in absences are for those students who were sent home for close contacts. Of the 659 students sent home for close contact, we are aware of 28 who later tested positive. It is important to emphasize that being absent for close contact is a setback for students who lose significant time in school. 

I have received several questions regarding the role of the school system in contact tracing. This article from al.com points out that public health is responsible for, and the only entity that can appropriately do, contact tracing. Schools are only required to report positive cases to public health as we become aware of them. 

I encourage parents to use the electronic form to report to us if your student has a positive diagnosis. This process has resulted in more efficient communication between home and school. As a reminder, students who receive a letter for a potential exposure may remain in school as long as they do not have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive. COVID-related absences are excused.

Face masks continue to be required indoors for all staff, students, and visitors. A priority for our system is for students to attend school and learn in a safe and nurturing environment. The goal for our long-term health and wellness strategy is to maintain that important balance. Accordingly, we continue to evaluate our plan to make adjustments and improvements. 

My next update will be Monday, September 20. 

Todd Freeman, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Vestavia Hills City Schools