MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Students across Alabama will finish out the rest of the school year in their homes, Gov. Kay Ivey said Thursday.
The governor announced in a news conference she had given state school Superintendent Eric Mackey the go-ahead to have students finish the school year online. She did so in a fourth supplemental State of Emergency.
The school year will officially end in Alabama June 5, Mackey said, and spring activities like sports and band are over.
"We just have to do what is the most important and pressing thing, and that is protecting the safety of our community," he said.
Mackey said the initial closure of schools due to the coronavirus outbreak happened when schools were on spring break, so students have only lost about a week of instruction, which has happened in the past for weather-related events. That lost time will be made up, he said.
"We know how to compress things, put some things aside and focus on the most basic and essential, critical learning standards," Mackey said.
Many school districts across North Alabama told WHNT they will be releasing more information on Friday or by next week.
Huntsville City Schools did say they plan to have drive-up wifi at all of their schools to assist with downloading homework. They will also park buses equipped with wifi in neighborhoods to help families who can not drive to the school.
Mackey also said the state's Homework Hotline had more staffing, and that Alabama Public Television would soon begin airing courses for students of different grades on different subjects.
As of Thursday afternoon at 4:45, there were 506 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama. Ivey said she was not ready to order residents to stay home because businesses needed to be fixing food, manufacturing supplies and providing educational materials.
"Right now is not the time to order people to shelter in place," she said.
One death had been confirmed by the Alabama Department of Health as of Thursday. State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said they were investigating other cases to make sure they could confirm that the disease was the cause of death.
"We want to be accurate and make sure we understand exactly what occurred," he said.