Category: Education

ACHE Leader: Remote Learning for Universities’ Summer Semester Possible; Community Colleges Will Finish Semester Online

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The executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education said Alabama’s universities may continue off-campus classes this summer because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

In a letter to university presidents this week, Jim Purcell said institutions need to communicate with students and their families about what summer courses, which begin in mid-May, may look like.

“As April approaches, you are no doubt considering how to conduct campus operations over the course of the summer,” Purcell wrote. “We all know that there are many factors in play in making this decision and not all of these are academic. Health of our communities, students, faculty and students must be paramount.

“While many unknowns remain, it is important that institutions provide clarity for students, families and the public so that they can plan to continue or begin their studies over the summer. I would support maintaining the online/remote instructional environment through the summer 2020 terms.”

Public Schools Closed for the Year; State Will Offer Alternative Learning Opportunities

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday afternoon that public school students will not return to the classrooms this school year.

Beginning April 6, the state will offer alternative learning methods of instruction. The state education superintendent is to complete that plan of instruction, Ivey said during a press conference.

“Local school districts will make staffing decisions and determinations related to access to school buildings” based on state health directives, Ivey said.

“We want to prevent a slide in students’ learning and achievement, and we are doing the best we can,” she said. Read more.

Alabama Schools Close Through the End of the Year

Schoolhouse doors will be closed in Alabama through the end of the term to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Kay Ivey and state school Superintendent Eric Mackey began a press conference to announce the decision at 4 p.m. Going forward, schools are directed to use alternative methods of instruction. A full story will be published after the press conference.

Crisis Highlights Digital Divide in Alabama

As the state grapples with education, government and industry closures in response to the coronavirus, the digital divide across the state is probably the most apparent it’s ever been. Much of rural Alabama doesn’t have the infrastructure to take broadband Internet into homes.

“You have one-fifth of the state population that doesn’t have access,” Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, said.

The chasm is perhaps most evident in schools, where administrators are faced with decisions when some of the students can partake in online learning and some cannot. Read more.

Ivey Authorizes National Guard Activation, If Needed, as COVID-19 Cases Rise to 106

Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday gave authorization for up to 100 National Guardsmen to be activated if needed in the battle against COVID-19.

“While there is no immediate need for us to deploy our Guard, I have given authorization to Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon to be on standby, should our first responders and health care providers need additional support,” Ivey said in the statement. Read more.

Schools Keep Feeding Students During Closures

At several Morgan County Schools today, administrators will be handing out grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts for what was supposed to be the rest of the school week to nearly 2,000 students who requested them. On Monday, staff will do it again, handing out 10 meals for students to eat during the week.

At Russellville City Schools, there’s one pick-up point available Monday through Friday for any student in the system to get a lunch for that day and breakfast for the next day.

Across the state, public K-12 school systems are figuring out how to feed the students who often rely on school meals while they’re closed at least through early April in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
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With COVID-19 Cases Confirmed, Schools are Set to Close, Drive-Thru Testing Begins and Churches and Facilities Put Precautions in Place

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey closed public schools and declared a state of emergency Friday as Alabama confirmed its first cases of COVID-19.

A Jefferson County resident became the second confirmed case of the new coronavirus in the state, and a Montgomery man was identified with the virus earlier Friday.

The Department of Public Health is reporting four presumptive positive tests in addition to the two positive results. Those people are in Elmore, Limestone and Tuscaloosa counties, and one person tested was from out of town, according to the Department of Public Health website. In all, 74 people had been approved for tests when the website was updated Friday.

The Jefferson County case involves an international traveler who returned home and was tested by a private physician.

The Montgomery case is a Maxwell Air Force Base civilian employee.

Across the nation, there were 1,629 cases of the virus and 41 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control’s update as of Friday evening. Read more.