Thursday, September 23, 2021

Alabama education leaders leaving mask mandates up to local school boards

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(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer FIle).

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — With COVID-19 cases on the rise and the new recommendations from the CDC on masking in schools, exactly what can students expect when they return to class in a few weeks?

Education leaders believe that the decision to allow students to wear masks in class should be made at the local level.

“Every school system in the state of Alabama has the autonomy to make a decision for themselves,” said Michael Sibley, communications director with the Alabama Department of Education.

Sibley stated that despite rising COVID-19 rates in Alabama, the department follows the lead of state health leaders.

“We take our cues from the Alabama Department of Public Health. So, it will be in consultation with ADPH if that order were to come down if it were to,” he said.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said it’s hard to compare the risks in one school system to another and agrees masking decisions should made by local school boards. He encourages everyone to get vaccinated.

“Remember, schools are not just full of kids they are full of adults as well. We certainly encourage everyone who is in a school setting to be vaccinated if it’s possible for them to do that,” Harris said.

There is still the possibility that COVID-19 hotspots could pop up at schools throughout the state. If that happens educators must be ready to respond.

“Virtual learning, masking and all the other things that came as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We have that experience under our belt now so, as we move forward into the coming school year, we hope that school systems remember the lessons learned over the past year,” Sibley said.

Governor. Kay Ivey maintains her position that students should return to the classroom. She also stated that she does not intend to re-impose any type statewide mask mandate.

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