HUNTSVILLE, Ala – Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton left Montgomery last week so frustrated he wrote an op-ed against, in his opinion, the lack of action by the state board of education as it relates to COVID-19.
Singleton said he believes school districts who are crafting their own return-to-school plans will eventually have to go all digital if COVID cases continue to climb.
“It will probably be three weeks and schools will have to shut down and do all virtual,” Singleton said.
It’s no secret that many Alabama communities lack access to the internet. Singleton said state schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey met with tech giants and came away without a deal.
“They told him it would be better for him to purchase (laptops/e-learners) on a state-wide basis than to allow each individual school system to purchase,” said Singleton who added the larger orders were apparently easier to fill over small orders.
Access issues aside, Singleton said he believes the state could be helping districts in two areas: COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within school systems.
“We need to have testing. In the African American community, a lot of people live intergenerational. There’s grandmother, mother, daughter, the children,” Singleton said.
The Alabama School Nurses Association has a plan to cover COVID-19 testing in schools. A plan Singleton supports and will present next week. The plan would cost $150 million. Money Singleton said can come from the CARES Act and grants.
“We have one-time money that we have to spend between now and December. The price tag should not be an issue. It’s not like we are taking from Medicaid or taking from other school money,” Singleton said.
Singleton will pitch the plan to the state school board Tuesday, which is also election day.