Despite some rumors to the contrary, the Tuscaloosa County School System will resume in-person instruction in its classrooms after students take time off for Thanksgiving break next week.

In a letter to parents sent Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Keri Johnson said classes will continue as scheduled until Friday, November 20th and students will return to the classroom on Monday, November 30th.

"I know that many of you have seen news reports of possible school closures in other parts of the country, and even temporary closures recently here in Alabama. However, keeping our schools open for in-person instruction continues to be the goal and intention of the Tuscaloosa County School System," Johnson wrote. "We look forward to completing the semester in-person, after Thanksgiving."

Classes will then continue another three weeks, until Christmas break begins following an early release on December 18th. The spring semester is set to begin on Tuesday, January 5th and end on May 28th, 2021.

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Johnson acknowledged that hundreds of TCSS's nearly 19,000 students have had to quarantine or isolate themselves due to COVID-19 protocols since classes began in August, but said the overall confirmed COVID positivity rate in the system has remained below one percent of the student population all year.

"While we have faced many challenges this school year, and continue to do so, I am proud that we have been able to keep our school doors open since August," Johnson wrote. "This is because of the actions of the outstanding educators and education support professionals in the Tuscaloosa County School System. We are grateful for how they continue to serve our community, through this very challenging time."

Johnson warned parents to be on the lookout for rumors and misinformation and to follow only official sources of information from the school system.

She also asked families to remain especially cautious and follow guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as we move into the dangerous territory of a holiday season that coincides with a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases and the expected rise of winter cold and flu cases.

Read Superintendent Johnson's full note here.