FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) — School and health leaders across Alabama are concerned over the rising COVID-19 infection rate across Alabama, especially as many students go back home for the holiday break.

Leaders with the Fairfield City School District said that while students are out for winter break, many of them will be gathering in groups for the holidays and won’t be making safety a top priority. The school system is making plans for any potential outbreaks, especially with the Omicron variant on the rise, in case one does occur after the holidays.

Zenobia Odoms, director of human resources in the Fairfield school system, said they are constantly looking at safety precautions when making decisions, including possibly going back to virtual learning.

“If cases were to rise we do have mechanisms where teachers are allowed or will have access to teach students from home. We have online learning platforms that allows for such measures,” Odoms said.

As students head back to school after the winter break, school leaders are holding parents accountable as the first line of defense if students are not feeling well, as well as encouraging them to notify staff as soon as possible if they contract Covid-19 to help with contact tracing.

Dr. Wesley Willeford, medical director of disease control for the Jefferson County Department of Health, said it’s alarming to see COVID-19 cases rising again. Currently, the transmission rate for COVID-19 is at a substantial level in Alabama and he expects to see that number increase with the rise in cases during the holidays. When mass gathering does take place he is encouraging the public to get tested for Covid-19 if you can especially if you are going around someone vulnerable. Also as terms of traveling he isn’t cautioning against it because the transmission rate for Covid-19 is high nationwide.

“I think what I would caution to schools is just to keep your awareness up for people who have to be out for COVID-19. Make sure you are staying on top of those cases,” Willeford said. “Staying on top of making sure people are held out from schools just in case they do test positive for COVID-19 because we don’t want it spreading any more than it needs to.”

Willeford is also encouraging people to wear masks and get vaccinated as well due to the uncertainty of how the current COVID-19 vaccine is against the Omicron variant.