TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — As COVID-19 cases keep rising, Tuscaloosa City school leaders are considering reinstating a mask mandate for students and staff.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Daria tells CBS 42 that 197 students tested positive for the COVID and are currently isolated or under quarantine.  He says keeping children safe inside the classroom is the top priority.

“I think it’s an extra layer of protection, visiting our schools we are seeing a good number of students wearing masks,” Daria said. “Right now that’s an option and we make them available in our schools and if that’s a preferred method of protection we want to make sure that’s available for students and staff.”

Daria says the school board could decide on Friday if they will reinstate the mask mandate.  Wearing a mask is currently optional.