BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham City Schools made the switch to remote learning late Sunday night following a large number of students and teachers calling out sick due to COVID.

The Birmingham Federation of Teachers held an emergency Zoom meeting Sunday night to discuss the current COVID-19 situation in schools. CBS 42 is told about 900 people participated in that call, and with so many students and staff out sick across the district, the school system decided to switch to remote learning Monday and Tuesday because of anticipated staff shortages.

Birmingham City school leaders say the timeline for notification of the change was not ideal but swift action was needed.

Birmingham AFT President Richard Franklin said the main goal is the safety of students and staff.

“In most of our schools we were doubling classes and in some of our schools we were in a situation where classrooms with 25 kids only had seven or six the past two weeks because the kids are out sick,” said Franklin. “So, it’s not just Birmingham. The pandemic is still going on.”

Franklin said school buildings will be cleaned and sanitized over the next few days. He said they are continuing to monitor the situation, but he anticipates schools being closed longer.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham City Schools System released a statement. It reads in part quote:

“We did not want to have situations where large numbers of classes were without educators. We also did not want students waiting for buses that did not arrive.”

Birmingham City School System