COVID-19 has ended classroom instruction in Alabama public schools for the remainder of the school year, Gov. Kay Ivey announced today.
In an emergency order, Ivey authorized Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey to provide schooling to students at home beginning April 6 to the end of the school year, which is now slated to end June 5.
“This decision has not been made lightly,” Ivey said. “It’s been made with a tremendous amount of concern and discussion.”
Ivey said the continual spread of the virus made it clear that classes could not resume after what would have been an extended spring break. However, work is being done to ensure that instruction doesn’t suffer as learning goes virtual and remotely.
“Certainly, we will be dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 in our health and economy, but the one thing we want to prevent from happening is a tremendous slide in our students’ learning and in student achievement,” Ivey said.
Mackey said the state is working with local school systems to address the various needs students will have in learning from home.
He said all school-related extracurricular activities such as sports and band are ended for the school year. He left open the possibility of graduation ceremonies being held in June if the situation improves.
The news comes after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to climb and a day after Alabama reported its first death from the coronavirus disease.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reported the state’s first death was a patient who lived in Jackson County, had underlying health problems and died in a facility outside the state.
Ivey and State Health Officer Scott Harris expressed their sympathies.
“I extend my prayers and deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones during these extraordinary circumstances,” Ivey said in a statement Wednesday evening. “I continue to urge everyone that this virus is real, it is deadly, and we should continue to maintain social distancing as much as possible. Together, we will overcome these challenges and difficult days.”
As of 9 p.m. Thursday, the ADPH reported 531 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with cases being reported in 48 of the state’s 67 counties.
Twenty cases were reported in Tuscaloosa County, where Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced the city will implement a curfew starting Friday, March 27, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. through April 3.
ADPH encourages the general public to follow Harris’ orders, including limiting gatherings of 25 or more persons and maintaining social distancing of six feet or more among other recommendations. In addition, ADPH encourages everyone to take precautions that include the following behaviors:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
An ADPH toll-free hotline for COVID-19 general information is 800-270-7268. Telephone calls are answered from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily, and a language line is available for people who do not speak English.
An ADPH COVID-19 general Information email address is [email protected].
In addition, a toll-free phone line provides information about available testing sites and hours of operation statewide at 888-264-2256.