LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has extended a statewide mask requirement until August 31. We are learning masks will be now be required in schools and colleges, where possible, for employees and students in second grade and above.

Governor Ivey is also voicing her support for getting children back into the classroom. This, as the Lee County School Board, announced Tuesday night they are holding off on in-school instruction in favor of virtual learning for now. Auburn and Opelika will give parents the option of face to face instruction when school begins in less than two weeks.

Parents, teachers, and students are once again facing a historic school year.

Tuesday, July 28, the Lee County Board of Education voted to support the recommendations of opening the new school year with remote learning for all students and delaying the start date for students until August 17. The Board released a statement to parents saying the decisions had not been made lightly.

“The health, safety, and well-being of our students, employees, and families remain a priority. The decisions to delay and to open remotely are based on evidence presented by the Alabama Department of Public Health, summaries from East Alabama Medical Center, and continuous consultation with local officials. This decision has not been made lightly; it has been made with full awareness of the ramifications. We will monitor the COVID-19 data closely and reassess the status of our community at the end of August. It is our intention, when conditions warrant, to re-open schools for traditional, in-person learning in the safest manner possible. Should health conditions improve we have a target date of September 9, 2020, for consideration to offer an alternating day “soft” re-opening with staggered attendance. More specific details regarding this approach will be shared closer to implementation. Employees shall return to work as originally scheduled in assigned buildings. As of the date of this decision, Lee County remains high-risk area for exposure according to the Alabama’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health. Thank you for working with us. Your understanding and patience are appreciated as we work through these trying times together.”

Lee County School Board

Opelika City Schools’ parents still have the option to have their students attend in person or participate in remote learning.

“Our plans are to begin both traditional school (with face-to-face instruction) and full-time virtual school (for those that have chosen that option) on Wednesday, August 12. We have worked tirelessly over the summer and taken additional measures as recommended by the ADPH to clean schools and to modify classroom layouts and procedures so students and teachers return to school as safely as possible,” said Dr. Mark Neighbors, Opelika City Schools Superintendent.

Auburn City Schools, Spokesperson Daniel Chesser says Auburn City Schools are taking safety precautions seriously and will allow parents to choose in-person or virtual learning.

“There have been no modifications to the 2020-2021 Auburn City Schools calendar. School is set to begin in both remote and traditional models on Monday August 10,” said Chesser.

The start of the school year is less than two weeks away with masks mandatory for grades second and up.