MONTGOMERY, Ala. (News Nation/WIAT) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that she would be extending the statewide mask requirement until Aug. 31.
During a joint news conference with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, Ivey announced that masks would now be required in schools and colleges, where possible for employees, and for students in second grade and above.
During the news conference, Ivey said the decision to extend the order was not easy, but necessary due to the increase in coronavirus cases during the pandemic.
“These decisions are not easy and they’re certainly not fun,” said Ivey. “One thing is for sure: tough decisions are a lot easier to make when you’re on the sidelines than when you’re in the arena.”
Harris said state education leaders are also in the process of creating and offering safety tool kits for schools that are reopening and allowing students in at the beginning of the year. The kits will be provided to schools that plan to transition from virtual learning to allowing students on-site after the first few weeks of remote training.
Over the last couple of weeks, several school systems across Alabama have announced they would not be holding in-person classes for at least the first nine weeks, opting instead to have virtual classes. Ivey said she was concerned about the decision, adding she was afraid it would contribute to a “slide” and that students would fall behind in their studies.
“That slide is likely to have a negative impact on Alabama’s future,” she said.
Ivey said if the situation with the pandemic permits, schools should phase in their in-person classes at the start of the school year later this August.
Harris said more information regarding that will be provided in the coming weeks.