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Gov. Ivey announces public schools to close for remainder of year, pursue ‘alternate’ education methods

Gov. Kay Ivey joined with Superintendent Eric Mackey and state health officer Scott Harris to announce stricter measures in the fight against COVID-19.

Ivey began by announcing that she has signed the Fourth Supplemental State of Emergency document.

This document, adding to the original state of emergency that enacted restrictions on social gatherings among other measures, will close Alabama’s public schools for the remainder of the year.

Originally, public schools were set to reopen on April 6.

Ivey expressed that the decision was not made lightly.

“We had hoped we would be able to welcome students back into the classroom on April 6. However, the virus continues to spread. Today I have signed a supplemental State of Emergency that allows Dr. Mackey and his team to provide instruction from home starting April 6 for the remainder of the school year. This decision has not been made lightly, it has been made with tremendous concern and discussion,” the Governor explained.

Alabama has more then 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, March 26.

The supplemental state of emergency states that “beginning at the start of school on April 6, 2020, all public K-12 schools shall implement a plan to complete the 2019-2020 school year using alternate methods of instruction as established by the State Superintendent of Education.”

Alabama is now the fourth state, after Kansas, Oklahoma and Virginia, to take measures to close schools for the remainder of the school year.

Dr. Mackey also made remarks during the press conference.

“We are concerned about that ‘long summer slide’ that may ensue, we are concerned about the lack of internet in some homes and all the things our teachers and administrators have brought to our attention across the state. We want to assure our parents and students and teachers that we are working diligently with local Superintendents and their teams to make sure there is a plan in place for every school to continue learning, close out their school year, graduate their seniors on time or very close to on time,” Mackey said.

Mackey will meet with superintendents Friday to began planning the alternative learning methods in anticipation of the April 6 start date. This school year will also now be extended until June 5.

“We’re doing the best we can with the things we have to maintain high quality instruction through alternative methods. All of this will be done with a focus on equity to ensure we close the gaps that we can for each student,” Ivey said.

This decision effects all public schools in Alabama, while private schools will decide on an individual basis.

The following is a link to the Fourth Supplemental State of Emergency: https://governor.alabama.gov/newsroom/2020/03/fourth-supplemental-state-of-emergency-coronavirus-covid-19/