MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Governor Kay Ivey has issued a State of Emergency due to the growing threat of coronavirus in the state. Ivey also announced plans to close all public K-12 schools in the state for two and a half weeks.
Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris announced a second positive COVID-19 case, this time in Jefferson County. Since the news conference, the Alabama Department of Public Health has issued an alert saying four more cases are confirmed.
The other four cases were confirmed in Limestone County, Elmore County, Tuscaloosa, and one person was from out of town.
State Superintendent Eric Mackey specified the closure saying schools will close starting at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. He further clarified by saying there would no e-learning for public schools during this time. The schools are closed.
UPDATE NOTE: Since Mackey’s announcement on March 13, several school systems have decided to close earlier than the date announced here. You can find those changes on our COVID-19: Imact on Schools story.
This closure will also impact all extracurricular activities.
Mackey said state leaders hoped the extra time would help parents adequately plan for the planned time off as they know it will be a hardship for some. But, he also said the closure is important to minimize the spread of the virus as well as giving the school systems plenty of time to sanitize.
According to our news partners at AL.com, Mackey sent a memo to statewide superintendents on Saturday.
“Under this state of emergency, please excuse any students who are absent from school Monday, March 16, 2020 through Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Expecting high absenteeism, we will be seeking a waiver on attendance for these days for accountability reasons,” Mackey wrote in the memo.
During the news conference, there was a question about food for students on free or reduced lunch. Mackey said the state is working with schools to prepare and deliver food to those who need it, but he wasn’t able to offer any specifics on how that will happen just yet.
The state has also started a toll-free hotline for the public to call as they try to determine if they should seek testing for the virus. That phone number is 888-264-2256.