Gov. Ivey urges schools to return to in-person learning

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey shared a statement on Tuesday, Dec. 1, urging school systems across the state to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.

In a statement shared with the media and on her website, Ivey noted the difficulty of this school year with the presence of COVID-19, but that students need to be in schools rather than learning virtually.

“Due to COVID-19, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, especially for our parents, teachers and students,” she said. “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.”

Ivey said there are 9,800 less students enrolled in schools statewide this schoolyear, while there has been a 5-percent reduction in students in kindergarten.

“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,” Ivey said. “Additionally, it could have an equally important economic loss that affects the critical funding for our classrooms and teacher units.”

Ivey said virtual learning and students not attending school in any form can’t and shouldn’t become a permanent part of the instructional 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,” she said.

Locally, there have been 10,958 cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County since the virus began back March with 77 total deaths. In the last 14 days, there have been 1,683 positive tests with 6,101 tested, while there have been a total of 74,483 tests administered with 25,610 hospitalizations.

As far as schools go, the Shelby County School district had the sixth highest number of cases during the most recent weekly count with 70, while Alabaster City and Pelham City schools both had 17 positive cases. Hoover City Schools had 48, which includes Spain Park and Greystone Elementary.

Across the state, during the most recent week, there were 2,261 new cases in students, which was up from 1,592 the previous week.

Ivey asked that school systems contemplate a return to normalcy as we near the holiday break.

“As we begin the holiday season and contemplate a return to a 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,” she said.

Ivey said she is planning to work with Alabama Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey to help draw up the best plan to ensure all kids are back in the classroom during 2021.

“Our employers, our families, our communities, Alabama’s taxpayers, and most importantly, our students, deserve nothing less,” she said.