UPDATES on COVID-19 and Alabama Schools

There is no doubt coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused both uncertainty and change to routine in recent weeks. A+ is committed to being a resource during this dynamic time. We’ve compiled a list of things that we know about Alabama education during COVID-19, things that are still to be determined, and extra resources you may need. We will continue to update this list as new information becomes available. The most recent updates are listed first.


UPDATE

POSTED THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 4 p.m., Governor Kay Ivey and State Superintendent Eric Mackey held a joint press conference with State Health Officer Scott Harris to announce the state’s decision on further school closures as COVID-19 cases increase in the state. The press conference was brief, and officials said that more information regarding these decisions would be sent to local superintendents tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2020.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Schools are still closed through April 6th. On April 6th, schools will remain closed, but students will resume their schooling from home for the rest of the school year. This means that students will continue to learn with the support of teachers, but will do so remotely using various at-home learning methods. Local systems have the flexibility to extend the school year until June 5th if they need to make up for lost instruction.
  2. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) is working with local superintendents to create a plan that will ensure all students are able to receive instruction at home. These methods include online and distance learning, “take-home packets,” Alabama Public Library System resources, and Alabama Public Television, as stated by State Superintendent Eric Mackey. The ALSDE has identified critical learning targets for schools to focus on with students in order for seniors to graduate and for K-11 students to move to the next grade. 
  3. Spring extracurricular activities, including sports and band, are cancelled for the remainder of the school year. Local districts may decide to hold prom and graduation ceremonies later in the summer once the curve has flattened.
  4. Officials did not mention whether or not the 2020-2021 school year might start earlier than originally planned to address lost time in the classroom. 

 We will provide additional updates as soon as we receive them.

 


UPDATE

POSTED MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

As of Monday, March 23, 2020, Alabama’s schools are officially closed for two and a half weeks to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Education officials are facing tough decisions as they attempt to balance the health and safety of Alabama’s students and teachers with the need for students to receive adequate instructional time.

Here’s what we know:

  • Schools are currently closed until Monday, April 6th. As of right now, students are expected to be back in their classrooms in two weeks. Watch this week for any updates from the state.
  • Alabama will not give its annual state assessments to students this year. Results of these standardized tests are used to measure student progress and are a factor in each school’s annual report card. Therefore, schools will keep their report card grades from the 2018-2019 school year. These changes will NOT affect students’ grades in the classroom. Click here to read more about this.
  • Many schools are still providing meals to students. Check out this list of schools that are still feeding students breakfast and lunch, compiled by al.com’s Trish Crain. She is updating this list daily. If your school or district is missing, you can email her at [email protected].
  • Education officials are prioritizing helping seniors graduate. State Superintendent Eric Mackey announced that allowing current seniors to graduate from high school is a top priority, and he urged parents not to worry. Click here to read more.
  • The Alabama State Department of Education has compiled a list of their resources for schools. This list contains correspondence to superintendents from State Superintendent Eric Mackey along with other resources. It is also being updated as the situation progresses. Click here to read it.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) tests will be given online. According to College Board, tests will be offered in 45-minute online exams, and students will have two date options to take each test later this spring. Our A+ College Ready team is working to adjust to this change and provide support for teachers and students.
  • The Alabama Best Practices Center will continue to offer professional learning for network members online. If you are a member of Key Leaders Network (KLN) or Powerful Conversations Network (PCN), click here to join our virtual sessions through Google Classrooms. ABPC will continue to update network members as more online learning opportunities become available.

Here’s what is still to be determined:

The Alabama State Superintendent, Dr. Eric Mackey, has formed a task force to advise him on a variety of challenges, including but not limited to the following:

  • School scheduling and any closures for the rest of this year, summer school options, and impacts on the next school year
  • Online learning capability and options for students
  • How students will graduate or move to the next grade

The spread of the pandemic is changing daily, as are the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), and the U.S. Department of Education. State Education Officials are in communication with these entities to determine any additional school closures.

In addition to this information, the Alabama State Department of Education has created two new email addresses for parents and educators to get their questions answered. Parents can use [email protected] and educators can use [email protected] to contact the department with their questions about schools and coronavirus.

As this situation changes, A+ Education Partnership will disseminate information as it is received, as well as at-home learning resources for students daily via social media. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We will also continue sending our weekly education news round-up, The Gist, every Friday morning with updates from the previous week. Click here to sign up.