Gov. Kay Ivey has announced that at the close of business on Wednesday, March 18, all K-12 public schools in the state of Alabama will be closed for two and a half weeks.
The announcement came as Ivey declared a state of emergency and health officials announced a second confirmed case of novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the state. The second confirmed case was reported in Jefferson County. Another was reported in Montgomery County this morning.
During a press conference with Ivey on Friday, State Health Officer Scott Harris said Friday there are as many as three other presumptive cases throughout the state yet to be confirmed. If those are confirmed, the total number of presumptive cases would have jumped from one to five in less than 12 hours.
State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey said this decision was made in hopes of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, which the state confirmed its first two cases as of today. He encouraged students and families to take precautions to protect their own health during the break.
“Even though we’re closing schools, we want the students to take this seriously and not congregate together in large groups and to take steps for their own safety,” Mackey said. “We put our guidance to school districts out earlier today about canceling school events and athletic events as well.”
The break from school is scheduled from March 19 – April 6, which in the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) would only add up to about six total classroom days due to the planned Spring Break. In a statement to parents this afternoon, MCPSS superintendent Chresal Threadgill said local administrators have been working with state officials and “this was not an easy decision to make.”
“I can assure you [this decision] was made at all levels with the health and well-being of our students at the forefront. It is our hope that by being proactive and closing schools now that we can reduce the spread of coronavirus, and that Alabama will not experience the number of cases that other states are having,” Threadgill said. “We are still working on the details of this closure, but we wanted to get information out to our parents as quickly as possible so you can make whatever arrangements need to be made.”
Mackey said the state is working with school districts to ensure that students in high-poverty schools are still able to receive free and reduced lunches but the details haven’t been finalized. More information about the impact on MCPSS can be found on the district’s Facebook page and at mcpss.com/coronavirus
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