TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A surge in COVID cases is impacting Tuscaloosa City Schools. Superintendent Dr. Mike Daria says all schools will be closed Friday and students will have a remote learning day on Monday.

“The decision for us to close schools for Friday for students and be virtual Monday was driven lots by the staffing challenges we are seeing in our schools. We are at 42 percent fill rate with substitutes which means we have classrooms that are vacant and that means our teachers and staff through the day have to cover for those vacancies,” Daria said.

Dana Ortiz is a second-grade special education teacher at Arcadia Elementary. This week she has been filling in teaching for another teacher who has been out sick. Ortiz says the Coronavirus has been a difficult experience to deal with.

“Teachers have really gone through a rough spell. We have teachers who are sick and teachers with family members sick. And teachers who have kids in their classroom who are sick.”

Daria tells CBS 42 that all school buildings will get a deep cleaning Friday and next Monday to disinfect germs from COVID-19. As for Dana Ortiz, she said she is happy to help so students get the best education despite the pandemic.

“We are a close-knit family at Arcadia we help each other out and we don’t mind helping each other out. We just want to do whatever we can do to make sure our students continue with good strong learning and their progress is not interrupted,” she said.

Tuscaloosa City schools will return to the classrooms next Tuesday for in-person learning.