Gov. Kay Ivey announced late Friday that all K-12 schools in Alabama will close at the end of Wednesday, March 18 in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools will reopen April 6.
“That gives parents three days to be thinking about childcare,” said Alabama State Superintendent Erick Mackey.
Also on Friday, state officials confirmed two positive tests results for the coronavirus in Alabama, one in Montgomery County and another in Jefferson County.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the ADPH has worked hard to prepare and has anticipated receiving a report of the first case of COVID-19 in Alabama.
“We continue to recommend that people be prudent and encourage them to use proper hygiene behaviors such as handwashing, not touching their faces with unwashed hands, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if they have fever,” said Harris. “As a precaution, it is suggested that any gatherings of more than 500 people be postponed or canceled.”
Gov. Kay Ivey said the safety and health of Alabamians is paramount.
“Alabamians are smart and savvy,” said Ivey. “I know they will continue taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread to themselves or others. We have taken a calm and collected approach in preparation for this first confirmed case, and we need to remember that calm and steady wins the race.”
Also on Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, freeing up additional resources and funding as federal, state and local governments attempt to combat the rapidly spreading disease.
Trump said the move would release up to $50 billion in federal aid.
Trump urged states to set up emergency operation centers and hospitals to active emergency preparedness plans, as well as a partnership with private companies to increase testing capabilities.
Locally, both school superintendents, Kevin Dukes in Jackson County and Dr. Jay Reyes in Scottsboro, said earlier in the day Friday that school would go in as is, at least for now.
“Jackson County schools are proceeding as normal, with precautions,” said Dukes. “Our system will be eliminating field trips, limiting large gatherings and increase efforts to sanitize each campus.”
Dukes said if the need arises for school to be closed, students’ education should continue if possible.
“For this reason, we have asked our teachers to create a plan for their students to continue their assignments if they are absent due to prolonged school closure,” said Dukes.
Reyes said Scottsboro city schools will open Monday and on a regular schedule. He said, unless already canceled, all athletic events that are scheduled through the month of March as still on.
“The guidance received concerning athletic events indicates that we have the power to participate when there is 500 or less at the event,” said Reyes. “Thus, tournaments are the only issue at this point.
Reyes said a baseball trip to Gulf Shores over spring break is on at this point, but still to be determined.
“I need more information from the tournament hosts before making a decision,” he said.
Reyes said a track trip over spring break to Florida State University has been canceled as has a band trip to New York.
He said the high school’s prom is still on.
“At this time, we will not exceed the recommended number for people at an event,” said Reyes. “It is my pledge to our students that prom will be high on my list to preserve.”
Dukes and Reyes both said remaining educated regarding COVID-19 is important for all.
“With our state being proactive during this reported pandemic, my hope remains strong that our efforts will help prevent the spread of this virus,” said Dukes.