Gov. Kay Ivey has extended Alabama’s “safer at home” order through the end of August, which will extend the current statewide face-covering requirement and require teachers and students from 2nd grade through college to wear face coverings as they resume in-person classes next month.
Ivey made the announcement Wednesday morning just days before the state’s current face mask requirement was set to expire on July 31. With the extension in place, the order will now continue through at least 5 p.m., Aug. 31.
“While no one enjoys wearing a mask, I’ll be the first to tell you that because of the help and support we’ve gotten in retail and business, I believe we’re making progress in this area,” Ivey said. “We must remain vigilant if we’re going to get our kids back in school and keep our economy fully open. Wearing a mask can’t hurt but it sure can help, and more and more people are seeing this for what it is — a way to protect yourself and others you come into contact with, care about and even the ones you love.”
For the most part, Ivey’s latest extension of the state’s “safer at home” order won’t have much of an effect.
With the exception of the face-covering requirement for schools, Ivey opted not to put additional restrictions on businesses and activities even though July has proved to be the worst month for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Alabama.
Specifically, the order says face-coverings in schools are required to be worn “where possible” but it does exempt younger students from Pre-K through the first grade. All school staff members and students in the second grade and beyond (including college students) will be required to do so.
“We know this could be an added burden for teachers, but as we focus on creating a safe and healthy environment for students, it’s also important we also take care of our teachers,” Ivey said. “Other than parents, one of the most important persons in a child’s life is their teacher and many families rely on schools for more than just education. It is a safe place where many children get their healthiest meal of the day. It’s a place where they are loved and encouraged as well as taught.”
The new face-covering requirement in schools is a slight departure from previous reopening plans developed by the Alabama State Department of Education [ALSDE] that allowed local school districts to make local decisions about resuming in-person instruction and when face coverings should be worn.
Some school districts, like the Mobile County Public Schools System, will not return to the classroom at all initially but will instead exclusively use online classes for at least the first nine weeks of the fall semester. Including MCPSS, more than a dozen — mostly larger — school districts have opted for similar remote learning plans, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all public school students in Alabama.
While Ivey said she supports the decisions those districts have made, she also encouraged them Wednesday to phase back into the classroom as soon as it is feasible and safe to do so in their areas.
“While I respect those districts that have elected to go to virtual classrooms, I feel with all my heart that a slide will occur by keeping all of our children at home, especially if there are other options. That is likely to have a negative impact on Alabama’s future,” Ivey said. “Nothing is set in concrete, and if the COVID-19 situation in your community or county permits, you should be looking to phase back into in-person classroom participation if at all possible.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).