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Superintendent's Weekly Update

September 20, 2021 -- Dear VHCS family,

The VHCS COVID-19 Dashboard has been updated for this past week. On Friday, September 17, there were 26 students absent for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and 25 absent for close contact. The JCDH COVID-19 Dashboard also shows similar decreases in the community spread of positives. These data are both informative and encouraging. 

The peak in positive cases in Jefferson County during this current wave of COVID-19 took place the week of August 23. Positives and close contacts among VHCS students also peaked that same week. Since then, our number of positives have decreased in a similar manner as the county where there has been no mask mandate. These patterns are also similar to previous waves we experienced last school year when there was a statewide mask mandate.

With universal masking in VHCS Sept. 1–17, there were several times each day when masks were not required. For elementary students, this included during PE (indoors and outdoors), recess, and lunch. Additional examples for secondary students included band classes when students were playing an instrument; while weightlifting; during athletic competitions and practices; transitions between buildings; and other other activities such as pep rallies and games. 

Our goal continues to be to have students focused on learning in a safe and nurturing environment. The most important part of our health and wellness plan is for staff and students to stay at home when they are sick. Please utilize this electronic form to report when your student has a positive diagnosis. Schools are required to report positive cases to public health when we are informed. COVID-related absences are excused. Parents will continue to receive a notification letter if your student has a potential exposure to someone who has a known positive COVID-19 diagnosis. 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. 

Speaking of attendance, I want to clarify how our school system earns revenue from the state. The funding our school system receives from the state each year is determined by the number of students enrolled during the first 20 days of school after Labor Day. The number of enrolled students is referred to as Average Daily Membership (ADM). The number of students who are absent or present has no connection to the amount of funding we receive and was in no way a reason for the mask requirement.

We continue to consider additional long-term measures to enhance our health and wellness plan. And we will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary.

My next update will be Monday, October 4. 

Todd Freeman, Ed.D.
Vestavia Hills City Schools