MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Friday, Alabama State School Superintendent Eric Mackey released a road map for Alabama public schools to reopen in the fall.
During a press conference Friday morning, Mackey said schools will reopen this fall and that there would also be an online learning option available for students as well. Mackey said that during a recent poll of parents across Alabama, 15% said they were not comfortable sending their children back to school for the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
READ: Parent’s Guide to Alabama’s Roadmap to Reopening Schools from the Alabama Department of Education
Mackey, who released the road map as a 50-page set of guidelines for schools to follow, said that approximately $200 million provided by CARES Act will go out to local school districts to keep the plan.
Mackey said the road map is available on the Alabama State Department of Education’s website. He added that while the guidance is not an exhaustive list, it is part of a continuous plan and a guidance document that is based on experience. He says that about 60 people contributed to the plan, including teachers, administrative staff, and many others.
The road map includes three areas: wellness, operations and facilities, and instructions and technology. The recommendations include essential, guidance, and consideration.
Mackey said improving remote learning will involve a statewide digital curriculum, devices for students, professional development for students, statewide learning systems, and connectivity in rural areas through broadband expansion, WiFi access, and hot spots.
Mackey was joined by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, who added that with the new plan for schools to reopen, smaller groups are better than larger groups, so outdoor school gatherings would be preferable to indoor classrooms, if possible. Harris also said longer events were not as safe as shorter events.
Harris said that somehow, he would like to see “choke points,” such as smaller doorways where people gather or move from class to class to either be minimized or eliminated all together.
Mackey and Harris said extracurricular activities would look a lot different, but activities like football and other sports would resume, albeit with social distancing if possible and sanitizing methods to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Mackey said that through these changes, Alabama would face its most difficult school year to date, but that teachers and school systems would be up to the challenge because their students needed them to be.