BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Hundreds of Birmingham City Schools’ teachers called in sick Wednesday.

This comes as the system grapples with COVID-19 infections across the board. Now, school leaders are working with the community to help keep struggling schools open.

Conversations about COVID-19 in Birmingham City Schools are heating up. Wednesday, the school system held two zoom meetings giving teachers, staff and parents the opportunity to address some of their biggest concerns. School leaders said over 1,200 people joined the call online.

Some of those topics included cleaning and sanitizing facilities, possible hybrid learning structures and masks, just to name a few. Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan and Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson took turns answering those questions.

The biggest concern seems to be, are schools safe during this latest spike in cases? Dr. Sullivan said they are doing everything they can to keep the virus out of schools through mask wearing, sticking with a 10-day quarantine for positive cases and testing.

“Just in the month of January we did 3,500 COVID tests in our schools. We identified 284 students who were positive for COVID who didn’t know it. And we also identified 81 adults, these are staff members who were asymptomatic and didn’t know it. So, we’re trying to identify individuals with COVID quickly so that we can remove them from the school,” said Dr. Sullivan.

For now, mask requirements remain in place in Birmingham City Schools.