MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The state Board of Education continues to brainstorm the best way to reopen schools in the fall. Governor Ivey, who serves as the president of the state school board, claims the state has the money to assist schools. The question remains on how to reopen them safely.
Over the course of hours state superintendent Eric Mackey broke down his plan, defending it to the state school board.
Two state senators, Jim McClendon and Bobby Singleton, were there and criticized Mackey’s plan as not providing strong enough direction for schools.
The state’s roadmap to reopening schools makes a number of suggestions for returning to class, but none of them are mandatory.
Not safety measures…Not sanitation standards.
Singleton argues the state school board should mandate how schools will operate.
“If we are leaving it to every school system to come up with their own plan, you’re going to get 138 different forms of safety plans,” he explained.
Both Singleton and McClendon rehashed their plan Tuesday. It calls for up to 300 new school nurses, providing COVID-19 testing in schools and adding space to isolate students who have COVID-19 symptoms.
Mackey said the decision to not issue any mandates was partially due to concerns over potential lawsuits for some school districts.
“It’s certainly a best practice if you have classes rotating in and out, that you wipe down the desks with Clorox or lysol wipes,” he explained. “But if we make that a mandate and a teacher forgets to do it, do we set up our districts for potential litigation because we’ve mandated something?”
With the first day of school on the horizon, it was recommended that Mackey issue a revised road map to reopening schools soon.
Governor Ivey said they may incorporate bits and pieces from the senators’ plan and the roadmap into the upcoming revision.
Another state administrator said the plan could continue to change until school begins
“‘The nurses and the superintendents are begging us for black and white,” she explained. “But its just not black and white right now. Things are changing constantly, the guidance is changing constantly and we can’t just say this is the way its going to be today and from here on out.”
Mackey’s revised statewide plan is expected in the coming days.