Governor Kay Ivey is urging school systems to return to in-person instruction even as some schools as recently as yesterday have returned to online learning. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization data from 14 states from early March to late July 2020 found the cumulative rate of COVID-19–associated hospitalization among children was over 20 times lower compared to adults”. However, the risk for teachers, administrators, and other staff will mirror that of other adults in the community if they contract covid-19, therefore caution should still be used. Al.com reported several schools have converted to virtual and in-person classrooms – or a hybrid of the two – as the Christmas holiday and the new year approaches.
Kay Ivey stated, “Due to COVID-19, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, especially for our parents, teachers, and students. I’m extremely grateful for the flexibility everyone has shown as they have adapted to virtual instruction. However, virtual and remote instruction are stop-gap measures to prevent our students from regressing academically during the pandemic. These practices cannot — and should not — become a permanent part of instructional delivery system in 2021. As we are learning more about COVID-19, we are seeing more and more clear evidence pointing out that our students are safe in the classroom with strong health protocols in place.
“There are nearly 9,800 fewer students enrolled statewide in this academic year and a five percent reduction in students on the kindergarten level. This will not only result in a critical learning loss for our students today but will also likely lead to an equally negative impact on the readiness of our workforce in years to come. Additionally, it could have an equally important economic loss that affects the critical funding for our classrooms and teacher units.
“As we begin the holiday season and contemplate a return to normalcy in 2021, I strongly urge our education leadership on both the state and local levels to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible. My Administration will work with Dr. Mackey, all of our local superintendents, and the Legislature to ensure that our kids are back in the classroom in 2021. Our employers, our families, our communities, Alabama’s taxpayers, and most importantly, our students, deserve nothing less,” Gov. Ivey concluded.
Alabama currently has an online dashboard to track covid cases in schools. Other surrounding states, including many counties in Florida, have had schools reopened to students since August. While covid cases have been present, the number of cases hasn’t been as high as previously anticipated.