Alabama public school students won’t return to classrooms this school year

Photo courtesy MGN.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - UPDATE: When a state of emergency was signed on March 19, state and school officials had hoped to get students back into the classroom by April 6. But with the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread topping 500 confirmed cases in Alabama and growing, it became clear that date was no longer feasible.

“This decision has not been made lightly,” Ivey said. “It has been made with a tremendous amount of concern and discussion. I cannot stress to our viewers enough, we must be serious about eliminating the spread of this virus."

K-12 students won't physically return to school but off-campus instruction is to be implemented. Ivey has instructed each of the state’s public schools to put a plan in place to complete the 2019-2020 school year using “alternate methods of instruction", which include online learning or packets that teachers will prepare for students to use at home.

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey called the closures “unprecedented,” adding “we’ve never had to shut down so many schools for such a long period of time.”

Mackey said he and others have concerns about the “summer slide,” the lack of internet in some students’ homes, and other issues, but reassured everyone the department is working is local systems “to make sure there is a plan in place for every school, for every child, to continue their learning, to close out their school year."

ORIGINAL STORY:

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across Alabama and topped 500 confirmed cases Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced students will not return to classrooms this school year.

Ivey has given schools permission to provide instruction to students at home starting on April 6.

Thursday, Ivey instructed each of the state’s public K-12 schools to implement a plan to complete the 2019-2020 school year using “alternate methods of instruction."

These alternate methods include online learning or packets that teachers will prepare for students to use at home.

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said ALSDE will work to graduate all seniors as close to on time as possible and to ensure all other students are prepared to go to the next grade level.

Ivey ordered local school districts to make decisions about staffing and access to school buildings in compliance with public health orders and CDC/ADPH recommendations.

This move also marks the end of sports for the school year.

Mackey said he hopes the school year will end by June 5.