156 students in the Tuscaloosa City Schools system have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since classes resumed there two weeks ago, according to new data shared on the system's COVID-19 Tracker.

The numbers, published Wednesday afternoon, show the virus has infected students in all but three of the 21 schools in the district -- so far, no cases have been reported at Oakdale Elementary, STARS Academy or the Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy.

The school system returned to in-person instruction five days a week for the 2021-2022 academic year and earlier this month, the TCS board voted to require the use of masks in classrooms until at least September 10th.

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Even with the mask mandate in place, TCS reports 156 confirmed positive cases so far this year. For context, there were only 416 confirmed positive cases among the student body during the entire 2020-2021 academic year.

TCS boasts more than 10,800 students in its system, and 1.36 percent of their student body was in isolation or quarantining when the Tracker was updated Wednesday.

Hardest hit were Paul W. Bryant High School and Central High School, with 16 positive cases each.

At Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, six students had confirmed COVID cases and 24 total were in isolation or quarantining -- a little more than 5 percent of the school's entire student population.

So far, 34 TCS employees have tested positive for COVID-19 during this academic year, and 10 were in isolation or quarantining as of Wednesday afternoon.

The COVID Tracker, which TCS established last year in an effort to be transparent about the virus in its school, was taken offline in June 2021 and all data concerning infections was meant to come directly from the Alabama Department of Public Health, but TCS superintendent Mike Daria said he decided Wednesday to bring the Tracker back online Wednesday.

"Re-establishing our COVID Tracker points to our commitment of being transparent with stakeholders about the numbers we are seeing," Daria said. "We want to make sure that we have a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff. That work is made possible with the help of families monitoring their children for symptoms, keeping them home if they are sick, and promoting good hygiene practices."

Case data has not been shared yet by the Tuscaloosa County School System, where masks are not yet being required. TCSS serves more than 18,000 students in 35 schools.

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for more details from both systems as they become available.

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