Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement last week about public schools. 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement on Dec. 2 urging schools that have not done so yet across the state to return to in-person classes.

While many schools across the state have returned to in-person learning, there are many that have remained with virtual learning this school year.

“Due to COVID-19, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, especially for our parents, teachers and students,” Ivey 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. These practices cannot – and should not – become a permanent part of (the) instructional delivery 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.”

COVID-19 cases have risen all over the state over the past two months – and that includes inside school systems – and rumors have swirled in The Sun’s coverage about schools returning to a virtual learning model soon. Coffee County Schools Superintendent Kevin Killingsworth publicly stated that Coffee County Schools has no plans to return to virtual learning and will remain open for in-person learning if at all possible.

Daleville City Schools switched back to virtual learning from Nov. 17 through Nov. 20 after a number of positive COVID-19 cases in the school but has made no plans to return to virtual learning full-time.

Enterprise City Schools, earlier this year, switched to a blended model of in-person and virtual learning for much of the first semester but has since returned to in-person learning.

Recently Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey revealed that more than 9,000 students from the previous school year did not enroll in the state’s public school system for the 2020-2021 school year and more than 5,000 public school students haven’t shown up for any sort of classes, whether virtual or in-person.

“There are nearly 9,800 fewer students enrolled statewide in this academic year and a 5 percent reduction in students on the kindergarten level,” Ivey said. “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.

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

Ivey is urging those schools that are still doing virtual learning to return to in-person learning and for those school systems that are contemplating returning to virtual learning not to.

“As we begin the holiday season and contemplate a return to 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,” Ivey said. “My administration will work with Dr. Mackey, all of our local superintendents and the legislature to ensure that our kids are back in the classroom in 2021. Our employers, our families, our communities, Alabama’s taxpayers and most importantly, our students, deserve nothing less.”

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